Two new species of ants discovered in Mizoram
Imphal, June 21(EMN): Two new species of a rare ant genus Myrmecina have been discovered in Mizoram by a team of scientists from Bangalore based research organisation-Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE).
The three-member scientists team including senior fellow Dr. Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan, Aswaj Punnath and Anoop Karunakaran of ATREE conducted the study as part of a research on bio-resource and sustainable livelihoods in North-East India.
One of the two newly discovered species of ants was named as ‘Myrmecina bawai’ in honour of Prof. Kamaljit S Bawa who is a renowned evolutionary ecologist and conservation biologist and founding president of ATREE, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year while the second species was named as ‘Myrmecina Reticulate’ because of reticulata sculptures on the abdomen, according to a press release.
The research team did an extensive sampling in Mizoram that lies in the Indo-Burma hotspot region in April 2019 and collected samples from almost all the protected areas and community reserve forests of Mizoram, the release said.
Myrmecina being cryptic ants are rarely encountered in visual surveys and their biology and behaviour are poorly known. These ants live in small colonies of 30 to 150 individuals under stones or decaying wood.
Myrmecina bawai is unique from all its congeners in India with its remarkable yellow coloured body with a dark tinge. Ants are super-organism and they play an important role in the ecosystem as seed dispersers, predators, and pollinators.
The team found Myrmecina bawai in a shaded region at an elevation of 1619 metres above sea level while they were eagerly looking for any other interesting species from the genus, and Myrmecina reticulata in the Winkler trap, it added.
The collection site of Myrmecina reticulata sits in the Dampa Tiger Reserve, Mamit district at an elevation of 409 metres above sea level, he added.
Mizoram has rich floral and faunal diversity and it forms a part of the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot region. The discovery of two new species marks the first record of the genus from the state Mizoram. With the present discovery, there are seven known species of Myrmecina in India.
Stating that 57 species of ants were known from Mizoram, Dr. Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan, a team member of the study team when contacted on phone said, “Now we are adding another 20 more species to the ant fauna of Mizoram. There are about 420 species of ants in Northeast India”.