In the forests of Mizoram, two new species of small-colony-forming ants were discovered for the first time. The new species of the ant genus Myrmecina Curtis was discovered by a team of researchers from the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE), Bengaluru.
The two species found, Myrmecina Bawai and Myrmecina Reticulata, were first reported from Mizoram, according to the study published on the ATREE website. 596 new plant and animal species discovered in India in 2018.
At the beginning of January 2021, two new species of a rare ant genus Ooceraea were found in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They differ from others of the same genus due to the number of antenna segments.
Myrmecina ant species in India
The discovery of two new Myrmecina ant species brings the number of Myrmecina species found in India to seven. The species occurs in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Odisha, West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Sikkim.
Previously, M. striata Emery, M. urbanii, M. vidyae, Myrmecina camellia and Myrmecina naraendra of this genus were reported from India.
There are 56 species and one subspecies around the world, common in the Australia, Nearctic, Oriental, and Palearctic regions.
Myrmecina ants in Mizoram. found
Myrmecina bawai, one of the species found in the state, has a yellow-colored, hairy body with a dark tint. It also has small eyes and erect hair on different parts of the body. Myrmecina reticulata, the other species, is black-brown and has a unique mesh sculpture on its belly. These species of ants live in hidden habitats, under rocks, rotting forests, and leaf litter
Myrmecina bawai was named after Kamaljit S Bawa, ecologist and founder of ATREE. New species are usually named for a characteristic attribute or location, but often for scientists to recognize their research contributions to biology, particularly in the areas of evolutionary and organism biology, ecology, or systematics.
The research was carried out in Mizoram as part of Bioresource and Sustainable Livelihoods in North East India with support from the Department of Biotechnology.
For the research, Priyadarsanan Dharmarajan’s team laid out pitfalls and crease traps (soil extraction) in the Phawngpuri National Park and the Dampa Tiger Reserve. According to him, Myrmecina, being cryptic ants, are seldom encountered in visual examinations, and their biology and behavior are little known.
The team said in a statement that they found Myrmecina bawai in a shady region at an elevation of 1,619 meters above sea level.
Ant species in India
According to a 2016 study of the distribution of ants in the Indian states published in ZooKeys magazine, there are a total of 828 valid species and subspecies belonging to 100 genera grouped into 10 subfamilies. In terms of species richness, the subfamily Myrmicinae is the most species-rich (354 species), followed by Formicinae (241 species), Ponerinae (111 species), Dorylinae (55 species) and Dolichoderinae (30 species, 3.6%), while the rest of the smaller subfamilies together make up 4.2% (Pseudomyrmecinae 11 kinds, Amblyoponinae 10 kinds, Proceratiinae 6 kinds, Ectatomminae 5 kinds and Leptanillinae 4 kinds).
Ants are an important part of ecology as they are not only one of the greatest hardworking workers, but are also necessary for pollination to make the soil fertile and much more.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on June 29, 2021, 6:54 pm IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sport, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website Latestly.com).