First record of Proceratium Roger, 1863, Zasphinctus Wheeler, 1918, and Vollenhovia Mayr, 1865 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from the Western Ghats of peninsular India, description of three new species, and implications for Indian biogeography

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Kalesh Sadasivan
Manoj Kripakaran


Three new ant species from the genera Proceratium Roger, 1863, Zasphinctus Wheeler, 1918, and Vollenhovia Mayr, 1865 are described from the Western Ghats of southern India. This is the first report of Proceratium and Zasphinctus from peninsular India and the first record of Vollenhovia from the Western Ghats mountain range proper. Proceratium gibbosum sp. nov. is described from Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala, being the first record of the stictum species group from the Indian subcontinent; it differs from other members of the stictum group by the mesonotum bearing a prominent rounded dorsal hump (tumulus) and petiole devoid of ventral tooth. The first record of the genus Zasphinctus Wheeler, 1918 from the Indian region is also presented here, with a description of a new species. Zasphinctus sahyadriensis sp. nov. differs from all known Afrotropical and Asian Zasphinctus by a combination of characters including clypeal area with single median tooth, occipital margin being regular in outline, and head sculpture sparsely punctate. The occurrence of the genus Vollenhovia Mayr, 1865 is confirmed from peninsular India, with the description of the female castes of Vollenhovia keralensis sp. nov. We provide ecological notes on these new taxa. In addition, separate identification keys based on the worker caste are also presented to Indo-Malayan species of Proceratium, Afrotropical-Indomalayan species of Zasphinctus, and Vollenhovia of the Indian subcontinent. The biogeographical implications of the presence of these three genera are also discussed in relation to plate tectonics of the Indian subcontinent.

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