Ponera ants from Taiwan and Japan

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In the recent paper “Taxonomic revision of the genus Ponera Latreille, 1804 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Taiwan and Japan, with a key to East Asian species” pubslihed in Zootaxa, (Danny) Chi-Man Leong, Benoit Guénard, Shiuh-Feng Shiao, and Chung-Chi Lin revise the genus Ponera and share a taxonomic key. Here, Chi-Man Leong shares some pictures of the ants and of their fieldwork.

A Photoblog contribution compiled by (Danny) Chi-Man Leong

I am very lucky to study in Taiwan, which is one of the most diverse regions for Ponera ants. It is easy for me to collect different species, and I can easily visit Japan to compare the type specimens.

I love Ponera, because their petiolar node is very distinct between different species. I can easily identify species based on this morphological character. Moreover, their fenestra looks different on the scanning electron microscope (SEM) than through the stereo microscope. I am fascinated by the fenestra, which is quite unique in the ants. Although I still don’t know what’s the function of it, this has made me fall for Ponera ants.

Ponera terayamai (© (Danny) Chi-Man Leong)

After Taylor (1967) reviewed Ponera, no one published a systematic review on this genus. Any discovery of new species is affected by the past studies in which the diagnostic information might not even exist. Based on this reason, I chose taxonomy as my main research area, and Ponera became the subject of my master thesis at the National Taiwan University. Ponera is a highly diverse genus in East Asia, so I cannot wait for more researchers to describe new species using my review, which covers the diagnostic characters and provides a useful taxonomic key.

In the field, I was looking for Ponera ants under the moss with a mesh and a pan. Ponera ants prefer a humid microhabitat in high altitude. (© (Danny) Chi-Man Leong)

From my paper, Ponera terayamai sp. nov. is the new species which is named after Dr. Mamoru Terayama (a Japanese myrmecologist and the expert on Ponera). Ponera wui sp. Nov. is the new species, which is named after my teacher Dr. Wen-Jer Wu (National Taiwan University). He taught and encouraged me to become a taxonomist who observes their taxon in the field. Lastly, I enjoy studying taxonomy because it helps you to learn about the planet that you live on and about the creatures in there.

Ponera wui (© (Danny) Chi-Man Leong)

Review of alated wing venation in Ponera ants. (© (Danny) Chi-Man Leong)

Looking for your samples in the field is very challenging with low resolution, you get easily lost in direction. (© (Danny) Chi-Man Leong)

Leech, they are easily found in the humid forest. They always suck your blood. (© (Danny) Chi-Man Leong)

Morning feeling, it is awesome to be an explorer and to enjoy the beginning of the day (© (Danny) Chi-Man Leong).

The Winkler sifter is a very efficient tool to collect Ponera species, Ponera terayamai sp. nov. was collected using this method (© https://www.facebook.com/ngplusmedia/).

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