Amblyopone australis

Every Ant Tells a Story - And Scientists Explain Their Stories Here
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Amblyopone australis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Formicidae
Subfamily: Amblyoponinae
Tribe: Amblyoponini
Genus: Amblyopone
Species: A. australis
Binomial name
Amblyopone australis
Erichson, 1842

Amblyopone australis casent0172267 profile 1.jpg

Amblyopone australis casent0172267 dorsal 1.jpg

Specimen Label


Amblyopone australis forage and nest in rotten logs.

At a Glance • Facultatively polygynous  



Keys including this Species


Heterick (2009) - A broad distribution throughout Australia. Within the SWBP, WA, most records come from the Darling Range and near the south coast.

Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists

Australasian Region: Australia (type locality), Lord Howe Island, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island.
Indo-Australian Region: New Guinea, Solomon Islands.

Distribution based on AntMaps


Distribution based on AntWeb specimens

Check data from AntWeb


In the SWBP, WA, nests of A. australis are not uncommon under logs and rocks. This is the Amblyopone most commonly encountered in the hills behind Perth.


Queen–worker dimorphism in body size is very pronounced in A. australis (Peeters & Molet 2010). Workers are polymorphic, and large individuals may be better adapted for digging galleries in rotten logs.

Adults and different stages of brood, showing variations in body size among workers. From Maleny, southern Queensland. Photo by Christian Peeters






The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.

  • australis. Amblyopone australis Erichson, 1842: 261, pl. 5, fig. 7 (w.) AUSTRALIA. Smith, F. 1858b: 109 (q.m.); Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1952a: 116 (l.); Imai, Crozier & Taylor, 1977: 347 (k.). Senior synonym of laevidens, nana: Wilson, 1958a: 142; of cephalotes (and its junior synonym maculata): Brown, 1958h: 14; of fortis, foveolata, minor, obscura, and material of the unavailable names howensis, norfolkensis, pallens. queenslandica referred here: Brown, 1960a: 167 (these previously provisional synonyms in Brown, 1958h: 13). See also: Taylor, 1979: 835.
  • obscura. Amblyopone obscura Smith, F. 1858b: 109 (w.q.) AUSTRALIA. Clark, 1925b: 138 (m.). Subspecies of australis: Froggatt, 1905: 8; Forel, 1910b: 2; Wheeler, W.M. 1927c: 10. Junior synonym of australis: Brown, 1960a: 167.
  • cephalotes. Amblyopone cephalotes Smith, F. 1876c: 490 (w.) NEW ZEALAND. Wheeler, G.C. & Wheeler, J. 1952a: 117 (l.). Subspecies of australis and senior synonym of maculata: Wheeler, W.M. 1927c: 13. Junior synonym of australis: Brown, 1958h: 14.
  • laevidens. Amblyopone laevidens Emery, 1887b: 447 (w.) NEW GUINEA. Subspecies of australis: Wheeler, W.M. 1927c: 12. Junior synonym of australis: Wilson, 1958a: 142.
  • fortis. Amblyopone australis var. fortis Forel, 1910b: 1 (w) AUSTRALIA. Wheeler, W.M. 1927c: 9 (q.). Junior synonym of australis: Brown, 1960a: 167.
  • maculata. Amblyopone cephalotes var. maculata Stitz, 1911a: 351 (w.) NEW ZEALAND. Junior synonym of cephalotes: Wheeler, W.M. 1927c: 13.
  • nana. Amblyopone nana Emery, 1914f: 394 (w.q.) NEW CALEDONIA. Subspecies of australis Wheeler, W.M. 1927c: 16. Junior synonym of australis: Wilson, 1958a: 142.
  • minor. Amblyopone minor Forel, 1915b: 1 (w.q.m.) AUSTRALIA. Junior synonym of australis: Brown, 1960a: 167.
  • foveolata. Amblyopone australis subsp. foveolata Wheeler, W.M. 1927c: 9 (w.q.m.) AUSTRALIA. Junior synonym of australis: Brown, 1960a: 167.

Amblyopone australis type material
Lectotype worker (Yoshimura & Fisher, 2012: 3) from Tasmania, Australia, Scheyer (misspelling of Schayer) (Berlin Museum für Naturkunde der Humboldt-Universität): 7228, CASENT0104575. Two specimens with same locality and collector information; one labeled ‘‘Type.’’ The original description of this species does not include detailed type information; however, Erichson mentions in the same paper that Schayer provided much material from Tasmania. Original labels on this specimen seem to have been replaced by new labels, and the collector on the new label is listed as ‘‘Scheyer,’’ a misspelling of Schayer, the collector’s name.

Amblyopone obscura type material
Syntype worker(s) and queen(s) from Australia (The Natural History Museum).

Amblyopone australis fortis type material
Syntype workers from Kuranda and Cairns, Queensland (Musee d'Histoire Naturelle Genève).

Amblyopone australis minor type material
Syntype workers, queen(s) and male(s) from Tamborine Mt. (as Mt. Tambourine), Queensland (1 worker in Australian National Insect Collection, location of other material uncertain).

Amblyopone australis foveolata type material
Syntype workers, queen and males from Denmark, Western Australia (2 workers, 1 queen and 3 males in Museum of Comparative Zoology).

Type Material

The following notes on F. Smith type specimens have been provided by Barry Bolton (details):

Amblyopone cephalotes

Holotype worker (presumed) in The Natural History Museum, mounted on card with a pupa. Labelled “Amblyopone cephalotes Smith. N. Zeal.” The specimen matches the original description but there is no datum label that proves it to be the true holotype. The original description states that the holotype was “collected by Mr Lawson at Auckland.”

Amblyopone obscura

One syntype queen in The Natural History Museum (syntype worker could not be found). Labelled “Australia,” and “A. obscura Sm. Type.”



n = 24, 2n = 48 (Australia) (Imai et al., 1977).


  • Brown, W. L., Jr. 1958h. A review of the ants of New Zealand. Acta Hymenopterol. 1: 1-50 (page 14, Senior synonym of cephalotes (and its junior synonym maculata); page 13, previous provisional synonyms)
  • Brown, W. L., Jr. 1960a. Contributions toward a reclassification of the Formicidae. III. Tribe Amblyoponini (Hymenoptera). Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 122: 143-230 (page 167, Senior synonym of fortis, foveolata, minor and obscura, and material of the unavailable names howensis, norfolkensis, pallens, and queenslandica referred here.)
  • Erichson, W. F. 1842. Beitrag zur Insecten-Fauna von Vandiemensland, mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der geographischen Verbreitung der Insecten. Arch. Naturgesch. 8 (1): 83-287 (page 261, pl. 5, fig. 7 worker described)
  • Forel, A. (1910). Formicides australiens reçus de MM. Froggatt et Rowland Turner. Revue Suisse de Zoologie, 18: 1–94.
  • Forel, A. (1915). Results of Dr. E. Mjöbergs Swedish Scientific Expeditions to Australia 1910-13. 2. Ameisen. Arkiv för Zoologi, 9(16): 1–119.
  • Heterick, B. E. 2009. A guide to the ants of South-western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, Supplement 76:1-206.
  • Hölldobler, B.; Palmer, J. M. 1989b. Footprint glands in Amblyopone australis (Formicidae, Ponerinae). Psyche (Camb.) 96: 111-121 (page 111, see also)
  • Imai, H. T.; Crozier, R. H.; Taylor, R. W. 1977. Karyotype evolution in Australian ants. Chromosoma (Berl.) 59: 341-393 (page 347, karyotype described)
  • Peeters, C. & M. Molet 2010. Evolution of advanced social traits in phylogenetically basal ants: striking worker polymorphism and large queens in Amblyopone australis. Insectes Sociaux 57: 177-183.
  • Smith, F. 1858a. Catalogue of hymenopterous insects in the collection of the British Museum. Part VI. Formicidae. London: British Museum, 216 pp. (page 109, queen, male described)
  • Taylor, R.W. 1979. Melanesian ants of the genus Amblyopone. Australian Journal of Zoology 26 (1978): 823-839. [24.i.1979.] PDF(page 835, see also)
  • Wheeler, W. M. (1927). Ants of the genus Amblyopone Erichson. Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 62: 1–29.
  • Wheeler, G. C.; Wheeler, J. 1952a. The ant larvae of the subfamily Ponerinae - Part I. Am. Midl. Nat. 48: 111-144 (page 116, larva described)
  • Wilson, E. O. 1958c. Studies on the ant fauna of Melanesia. I. The tribe Leptogenyini. II. The tribes Amblyoponini and Platythyreini. Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. 118: 101-153 (page 142, Senior synonym of laevidens and nana)
  • Yoshimura, M. & Fisher, B.L. 2012. A revision of male ants of the Malagasy Amblyoponinae (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) with resurrections of the genera Stigmatomma and Xymmer. PLoS ONE 7(3):e33325 (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033325).