Friday, May 25, 2007

Tiputini Azteca

Azteca is one of my least favorite genera. Just because there are so many of them and differentiating them seems impossible. Aside from a few hand collected foragers, the vast majority of my Azteca specimens came from canopy fogging, which means a bunch of random workers and no associated queens. This is a huge problem because it seems that Azteca workers show a huge amount of size polymorphism, which means sorting them by workers is not ideal. Luckily for me, Stephanie Johnson over at the Smithsonian decided to work on a revision of Azteca, and sorted them to morphospecies for me. Later on, after doing sequencing and whatnot, she can hopefully put some names on them, too. Basically, she sorted the ants into 16 morphospecies of minors and 16 morphospecies of majors, but at the moment, she cannot say which majors match up to which minors. So there are at least 16 Azteca species at Tiputini. I won't list them here, as there are no actual names on them. But I will encourage anyone out there with preserved Azteca samples to contact Stephanie about contributing to her revision. If there was ever a genus in need of a revision, it is this one.

The updated Azteca page can be found here.

Photo: Azteca queen from Tiputini

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