Phylogeny and taxonomy fungus-growing ant genus Sericomyrmex

Fungus growers of genus that are not Atta or Acromyrmex. If you like them, keep them or want to talk about them, post here.
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Phylogeny and taxonomy fungus-growing ant genus Sericomyrmex

Post by Acromyrmexbob » Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:39 pm

From link: ... 2/P113.pdf

All fungus-growing ants actively cultivate and eat fungus gardens grown on a substrate of organic
material brought into their nests. Sericomyrmex is a poorly known genus of fungus-growing ants that
is closely related to the leaf-cutting genera Atta and Acromyrmex, the dominant herbivores in
Neotropical ecosystems. Sericomyrmex includes 22 described species and subspecies and is
distributed throughout most of South and Central America, and belongs to ‘higher attine’
agriculture. In most cases, when poorly known taxa are subjected to increased scrutiny, particularly
at the genetic level, cryptic diversity is revealed. In the case of genus Sericomyrmex, however,
extensive field work across its entire range in Central and South America, morphological study of
worker variation, and genetic data from 8 genes and three transcriptomes, all indicate that there
may be far less species than the 22 described by previous authors. If this hypothesis is correct, it
suggests that Sericomyrmex has achieved a wide geographic and biotic distribution (in savannahs,
cerrados, and rain forests from Argentina to Mexico) with only a small degree of accompanying
speciation, in contrast to most other ant species, including those in its similarly distributed sister
taxon Trachymyrmex. Is the current geographic distribution of Sericomyrmex the product of a recent,
rapid geographic radiation with minimal accompanying diversification? I describe my current efforts
to delimit Sericomyrmex species by integrating multiple sources of information, including
reconstructing a phylogeny based on >500 Ultraconserved Element (UCE) loci. I am also exploring
ecological and behavioral data as sources of information about Sericomyrmex species boundaries,
particularly nest architecture. Understanding the biology of Sericomyrmex species is important for
reconstructing the origin and evolution of higher attine agriculture and for explaining the
remarkable ecological success of the leaf-cutting genera Atta and Acromyrmex.

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