B’luru scientists uncover two new ant species, one of which will be named after ATREE’s founder. Three researchers from the Bengaluru-based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) found two new species. The rare ant genus Myrmecina in Mizoram woods for the first time.
According to the three-member research team, the finding of two new species. That represents the first record of the Myrmecina genus in the state of Mizoram.
The team, led by ATREE senior fellow Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan, explained that because ATREE is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. They chose to name one of the new species Myrmecina bawai in honor of the organization’s founder president, Kamaljit S. Bawa, a renowned evolutionary ecologist, and conservation biologist.
“Myrmecina bawaiis unusual among its congeners in India due to its striking yellow body with a black tint,” he said.
The study team conducted comprehensive sampling in Mizoram state as part of the Department of Biotechnology-funded project – Bioresources and Sustainable Lives in North East India.
The study began in April 2019 in the Indo-Burma hotspot region. Collecting samples from nearly all of Mizoram’s protected areas and community reserve forests.
“We had a strong sense that we would discover something fascinating in Mizoram’s stunning scenery. This emotion compelled us to investigate deep forest areas devoid of human disruptions “As Rajan said.
He noted that the researchers collected ant samples from leaf litter using an unconventional technique called the Winkler extractor.
“After returning from the field, while cleaning and sorting specimens under the microscope. We discovered a tiny yellow ant that was very unlike many other ants. We were quite certain that an ant under a microscope would reveal something fascinating. Finally, after a thorough study of morphological characteristics, it is determines to be a new species “‘ He says.
When the team starts their research, there were 57 species of ants familiar from Mizoram; with the discovery of these two new species. The team claims to have added another 20 species to Mizoram’s ant biodiversity.
According to him, since Myrmecina is cryptic ants. They are seldom glare visually and their biology and behavior are little axiomatic.
“These ants live in small colonies of 30 to 150 individuals beneath stones or decaying wood,” he explained. Adding that while many of us find ants annoying, this tiny creature is a superorganism that contributes significantly to the ecosystem through seed dispersal, predator control, and pollination.
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Numerous ants thrive in cryptobiotic environments such as leaf litter, rotting wood, or stone. Several of these species are unknown to science.
Two workers of Myrmecina bawai were gathers from Phawngpui National Park. Often referred to as Blue Mountain National Park, the researchers said in a release. This is Mizoram’s tallest mountain peak, reaching a maximum elevation of 2157 meters above sea level.
“We discovered Myrmecina bawai in a shady area 1619 meters above sea level,” the researchers said in a release.
Rajan said that this new species’ gaster has a stunning and unusual reticulated sculpture (abdomen).
“We named the species Myrmecina reticulata after this one-of-a-kind sculpture on the gaster. Myrmecina reticulata was collected in the Dampa Tiger Reserve, Mamit district, Mizoram, which is located in the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot area “According to the researchers.
In India, only seven verified Myrmecina species are discovered, and they are found in states such as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Odisha, West Bengal, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Sikkim.