Crematogaster levior occurs in lowland wet forest habitats, where it cohabits large ant gardens with Camponotus femoratus. Dejean et al. (2018) found this territorially-dominant arboreal-ant species association inhabited 1/5 of the tree canopies they sampled in an Amazonian forest.
See Crematogaster carinata for identification remarks.
Amazonian portions of Brazil, Guianas, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia.
Distribution based on Regional Taxon Lists
Distribution based on AntMaps
Distribution based on AntWeb specimens
Check data from AntWeb
Leal et al. (2017) - Crematogaster levior and Camponotus femoratus are common in Amazonian ant gardens and often occur nesting together. It is known that the latter aggressively defends its nesting location, i.e., the ant garden, while the former does not. Crematogaster levior are able to forage both on the forest understory and on the forest ground, over larger distances from the nest and under more extreme weather conditions (such as at forest edges) in comparison with C. femoratus (Vantaux et al., 2007). Camponotus femoratus forages exclusively in the forest understory for brief periods during the day.
In this study twenty six rainforest ant gardens in forest edge habitat and forest interior locations were examined. Fifteen epiphyte species were found to be incorporated in the ant gardens overall, with from one to five species per nest. The major ant garden difference was a higher incidence of epiphytes with glands, i.e., oil producing or nectar bearing species, in the forest interior. Camponotus femoratus was found to react to chemical compounds indicative of herbivore damage while Crematogaster levior did not. This is consistent with the former providing herbivore protection to the epiphytes it lives with while the latter does not. Along with the differences in foraging potentially limiting the extent of interspecific competition between the two ant species for resources provided by their shared ant garden, Camponotus individuals can get food from Crematogaster workers through trophallaxis (Menzel et al., 2014). Therefore, C. femoratus may co-occur with C. levior due to the additional resource input provided by the latter.
Vicente and Izzo (2017) - Ant gardens occupied by this species were more common and larger in larger forest gaps. Gaps with more open canopies and with greater vegetative connectiveness were correlated with a decrease in ground foraging by C. levior.
Also see the biology section of Crematogaster carinata for further natural history details of C. levior. (Longino 2003)
Greve et al. (2019) examined the cuticular hydrocarbon profiles of this species and Camponotus femoratus. These two ants are parabiotic (share a nest but maintain separate brood chambers). It had previously been shown that there are two different phenotypes/chemotypes of both species, with no apparent differences in their morphology and ecology (Emery & Tsutsui, 2013; Menzel, Orivel, Kaltenpoth, & Schmitt, 2014). The current study gathered cuticular hydrocarbon data from many colonies across a large area (within French Guiana), and also recorded information about secondary metabolites, morphological traits and genotypes. Analysis of the chemical and genetic data clearly separated each species into two distinct groups. A less distinctive but still relevant difference was noted in the morphological data for each of the two species types. The two C. femoratus forms also showed a distinct ecological pattern, with one being more common in the drier, western half of the area where colonies were sampled and the other more prevalent in the wetter and slightly cooler eastern area of sampling. There was no evidence for any segregation by species group within the mutualistic relationship of these two ants, e.g., the two forms of C. femoratus did not show any preference for associating with either form of C levior.
The following information is derived from Barry Bolton's New General Catalogue, a catalogue of the world's ants.
- levior. Crematogaster levior Longino, 2003a: 132 (w.) BRAZIL.
Unless otherwise noted the text for the remainder of this section is reported from the publication that includes the original description.
Holotype: HL 0.587, [HW, HC not visible], SL 0.586, EL 0.142, WL 0.672, SPL 0.130, PTH 0.141, PTL 0.201, PTW 0.152, PPL 0.145, PPW 0.147, OI 24, SI 100, PTHI 70, PTWI 76, PPI 101, SPI 19.
Pronotal dorsum almost entirely smooth and shiny, with no trace of carinulae, or with faint traces along anterolateral margins; other characters as in Crematogaster carinata.
Holotype worker. Brazil, Amazonas (H. W. Bates) Zoologische Staatssammlung, Munich. There are two workers on one card. The holotype has been indicated with a black arrow drawn on the card.
- Dejean, A., J. Orivel, M. Leponce, A. Compin, J. H. C. Delabie, F. Azemar, and B. Corbara. 2018. Ant-plant relationships in the canopy of an Amazonian rainforest: the presence of an ant mosaic. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 125:344-354. doi:10.1093/biolinnean/bly125
- Forel, A. 1911e. Ameisen des Herrn Prof. v. Ihering aus Brasilien (Sao Paulo usw.) nebst einigen anderen aus Südamerika und Afrika (Hym.). Dtsch. Entomol. Z. 1911: 285-312 (page 274, worker described)
- Hartke, J., P. P. Sprenger, J. Sahm, H. Winterberg, J. Orivel, H. Baur, T. Beuerle, T. Schmitt, B. Feldmeyer, and F. Menzel. 2019. Cuticular hydrocarbons as potential mediators of cryptic species divergence in a mutualistic ant association. Ecology and Evolution. 9:9160-9176. doi:10.1002/ece3.5464
- Leal, L.C., Jacovak CC., Bobrowiec PE., José Luiz C Camargo, Paulo Enrique C Peixoto 2017. The role of parabiotic ants and environment on epiphyte composition and protection in ant gardens. Sociobiology 64 (3)
- Longino, J.T. 2003a. The Crematogaster of Costa Rica. Zootaxa 151: 1-150. PDF (page 132, worker described)
- Vicente, R. E. and T. J. Izzo. 2017. Defining Habitat Use by the Parabiotic Ants Camponotus femoratus (Fabricius, 1804) and Crematogaster levior Longino, 2003. Sociobiology. 64:373-380 (doi:10.13102/sociobiology.v64i4.1228.