AsianScientist (Aug. 16, 2016) – While some might think that new species are only discovered in deep, pristine forests, researchers at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) have found a rare new ant species just meters away from their university campus.
The new golden tree ant species was found on the foothill of Lung Fu Shan Country Park during a night field course, and described in the journal Asian Myrmecology.
The unusually large size of the ant, about 7 mm long, and its golden appearance piqued the curiosity of research assistant Dr. Luo Ying, who collected it for further inspection. Luo works in the Insect Biogeography and Biodiversity research group led by Dr. Benoit Guénard at HKU.
Back at the laboratory, Luo and Guénard realized that this ant was quite special. Not only did the specimen represent the first record of the ant genus Paratopula for Hong Kong and southern China, it also represented a new species for science.
Despite intensive collection efforts, the ant has only been found at Lung Fu Shan Country Park. Hence, the ant can be considered as endemic to Hong Kong Island.
The newly described species has been given the scientific name Paratopula bauhinia, in reference to the Bauhinia flower, which is the symbol of Hong Kong.
Interestingly, this species seems to live on trees and forages only at dusk and at night, where it can be found on lower vegetation and human-made structures.
The article can be found at: Luo and Guénard (2016) Descriptions of a New Species and the Gyne in the Rarely Collected Arboreal Genera Paratopula and Rotastruma (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from Hong Kong, with a Discussion on Their Ecology.
Source: University of Hong Kong.
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