Temporal range: 23.03–0 Ma Early Miocene – Recent
|Alliance:||Ponera genus group|
Schmidt & Shattuck, 2014
|Euponera (Brachyponera) rufonigra, now Austroponera rufonigra|
1 fossil species
(Species Checklist, Species by Country)
|Relationships among genera of the ant subfamily Ponerinae (extant taxa only, except Dolioponera, Feroponera and Iroponera) based on Schmidt & Shattuck (2014) and Longino & Branstetter (2020).|
Austroponera is a small genus (3 described species) which is restricted to Australia and New Zealand. While it is found in a variety of habitats it is nowhere common and is biologically little known.
Schmidt and Shattuck (2014) - Workers of this genus can be separated from other Ponerinae by the combination of the following characters: anterior clypeal margin convex, without a blunt anteromedial rectangular projection and in side view posterior to the anterior margin of head (the clypeus rounded above mandibles), mandibles triangular and relatively short, their outer margins generally flat or convex medially and lacking a basal pit or groove, the ventral apex of the metatibia with both a large pectinate spur and a smaller simple spur, the propodeal spiracle round or ovoid, and a prora present on the anterior margin of the first gastral sternite. Austroponera is morphologically similar to several other ponerine genera. These include Brachyponera, from which it can be separated by the lack of a basal mandibular pit or groove and the presence of a prora on the anterior margin of first gastral sternite; Cryptopone, which has stout traction setae on the dorsum of the mesotibiae (these are absent in Austroponera); Pseudoponera, which has a slit-shaped rather than round propodeal spiracle as found in Austroponera; and Rasopone, from which it can be separated by its presence of a stridulatory organ on A4 and its rounded rather than angular anterior clypeal margin. While not closely related based on the findings of Schmidt (2013), Austroponera is morphologically similar to some Mesoponera species. It differs in the shape of the clypeus (in side view the anterior clypeal margin is posterior to the anterior margin of the head, the clypeus being rounded above mandibles) and in having shorter mandibles which have their outer margins generally flat or convex medially rather than concave. While these two genera are superficially similar and the differences outlined here subtle, they are not closely related and the similarities are due to convergence rather than relatedness.
|See images of species within this genus|
Keys including this Genus
Distribution and Richness based on AntMaps
Fossils are known from: Foulden Maar diatomite, New Zealand (Aquitanian, Early Miocene).
Schmidt and Shattuck (2014) - Species of Austroponera are found in a diversity of habitats ranging from open situations such as roadsides, pastures and gardens to native forests (Don, 2008; Heterick, 2009). Nests are small, with tens rather than hundreds of workers, and are found in rotting wood, leaf litter, under rocks, or directly in the soil (Brown, 1958). They are predacious and attracted to sweet baits. Workers are often encountered in leaf litter samples and pitfall traps and when disturbed are timid, retreating into their nests (Don, 2008). Both winged (in Austroponera castaneicolor) and ergatoid (in Austroponera castanea) queens are known to occur in the genus (Wilson & Taylor, 1967).
Life History Traits
- Mean colony size: 10's (Greer et al., 2021)
- Compound colony type: not parasitic (Greer et al., 2021)
- Nest site: hypogaeic (Greer et al., 2021)
- Diet class: omnivore (Greer et al., 2021)
- Foraging stratum: subterranean/leaf litter (Greer et al., 2021)
• Eyes: 11-100 ommatidia • Pronotal Spines: absent • Mesonotal Spines: absent • Propodeal Spines: absent • Petiolar Spines: absent • Caste: none or weak • Sting: present • Metaplural Gland: present • Cocoon: present
The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's Online Catalogue of the Ants of the World.
- AUSTROPONERA [Ponerinae: Ponerini]
- Austroponera Schmidt & Shattuck, 2014: 180. Type-species: Euponera (Brachyponera) rufonigra, by original designation.
Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.
Schmidt and Shattuck (2014):
Medium-sized (TL 4–5 mm) ants with the standard characters of Ponerini. Mandibles triangular, relatively short, with roughly ten teeth and no basal pit or groove. Anterior margin of clypeus broadly convex and often with a small projecting tooth medially. Frontal lobes small. Scapes not flattened basally. Eyes moderate in size, located anterior of head midline. Mesopleuron divided by a transverse groove. Metanotal groove either shallowly depressed or reduced to a suture. Propodeum dorsally broad, not narrowed anteriorly. Propodeal spiracle round. Metatibial spur formula (1s, 1p). Petiole squamiform. Subpetiolar process lacking an anterior fenestra. Helcium low on anterior face of A3. Girdling constriction between pre- and postsclerites of A4 apparent. Stridulitrum present on pretergite of A4. Head and body with scattered pilosity. Color reddish-brown to dark brown.
Similar to worker, but winged or ergatoid and with the other differences typical for alate ponerine queens.
Austroponera is a combination of austro, Latin for south and referring to Australia, the region where this genus occurs, together with ponera from the subfamily name Ponerinae.