The goal of the Ants of Fiji project is to provide an update to W. M. Mann’s (1921) monograph The Ants of the Fiji Islands, published 89 years ago. At the time, Mann lamented that the insect fauna of Fiji had been almost entirely neglected, and the limited knowledge accrued in the years since his publication is even more lamentable. Aided by an abundance of ant specimens collected in recent years and a general resurgence of interest in Pacific ants, the opportunity has arrived to synthesize the taxonomy of the Fijian ant fauna for new generations of biologists.
With 187 species distributed over seven islands of moderate size, and hundreds of smaller islands, the ants of Fiji are a tractable fauna that can be useful in testing hypotheses relevant to evolutionary biology, island biogeography, community ecology, invasion biology, and other disciplines. The following study is an effort to lay a taxonomic foundation for future work on the biology and conservation of the Fijian ant fauna.
The Fijian terrestrial biota has assembled during ~20 million years of over-water colonization, in situ evolution and speciation, and more recently through the arrival of species as stowaways on canoes, galleys and battleships. The extant species assemblage is characterized by extreme geographic isolation from source areas, differentiation and pattern formation among islands, and contemporary invasions. The list of species occurring in Fiji, which continues to grow, includes both widespread dominant species and rare taxonomic oddities.
Unlike typical remote oceanic islands, Fiji boasts a diverse and distinctive ant fauna with 43 genera, 187 known species, and endemism rates of over 60%. A number of Fiji’s ant genera (e.g. Cerapachys, Leptogenys, Proceratium) are not expected to occur on a remote oceanic island, and are more typically associated with continental faunas. Study of these taxa in relation to their relatives throughout the Pacific may prove useful for elucidating the biogeographical origin for much of Fiji’s enigmatic biota. Additionally, many genera (e.g. Camponotus, Pheidole, Strumigenys, Lordomyrma) have diversified within the archipelago into a radiation of endemic species. A detailed study of these genera combined with a broad study of the entire ant fauna is sure to reveal a wealth of information concerning the ecological and evolutionary assembly of Fiji’s biota over geologic time.
- Antweb (Fiji Ants project). Taxa lists, species pages, specimen images, and over 10,000 specimen records.
- PIAkey. Interactive guide to invasive ants of the Pacific Islands. Includes many species that occur in Fiji.
Sarnat, EM & EP Economo (2012) The ants of Fiji. University of California Press Publication in Entomology 132: iii-viii; 1-384. [pdf]
Sarnat, EM & CS Moreau (2011) Biogeography and morphological evolution of a Pacific island ant radiation. Molecular Ecology 20:114-130. [pdf]
Lucky, A & EM Sarnat (2010) Biogeography and diversification of the Pacific ant genus Lordomyrma Emery. Journal of Biogeography 37: 624-634. [pdf]
Sarnat, EM (2008) A taxonomic revision of the Pheidole roosevelti-group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Fiji. Zootaxa 1767:1-36. [pdf]
Lucky, A & EM Sarnat (2007) New species of Lordomyrma (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) from Southeast Asia and Fiji. Zootaxa 1681: 37-46. [pdf]
Sarnat, EM (2006) Lordomyrma (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the Fiji Islands. In: Evenhuis, N.L. & Bickel, D.J. (eds.), Fiji Arthropods. IX.Bishop Museum Occasional Papers 90: 9-42. [pdf]