The print and full color, open-access pdf versions of the Ants of Fiji (Sarnat & Economo, 2012) are now available. The 400-page monograph reviews the entire known Fijian ant fauna, and includes the results of a recently completed archipelago-wide biodiversity inventory. A total of 187 ant species representing 43 genera are recognized here with an illustrated key to genera, synopses of each species, keys to species of all genera, and a species list. The work is heavily illustrated with specimen images, distribution maps, and habitat elevation charts.
Sarnat, E.M. & Economo, E.P. (2012) Ants of Fiji. University of California Publications in Entomology, 132, 1-398. [pdf]
Expert from the introduction section
Biologists have long sought to document and understand the unique evolution and ecology of island biotas. Oceanic archipelagos are often adorned with spectacular evolutionary radiations and unique ecosystems. These distinctive faunas, however, are highly vulnerable to human activities, climate change, and introduction of exotic species. Among island ant faunas, perhaps nowhere are these themes so prominently on display as in the Fijian archipelago.
The Fijian terrestrial biota was assembled during approximately 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 (Figure 1). Today’s Fijian ant fauna 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.
The motivation of this study 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. With the recent collection of a large number of ant specimens in recent years, and a surge of interest in biodiversity research and conservation in Fiji, the opportunity has arrived to synthesize the taxonomy of the Fijian ant fauna for new generations of biologists. Our goal is to provide a resource that will allow a scientist to collect an ant specimen anywhere in Fiji and connect it to information on its taxonomy, geographic distribution, habitat distribution and natural history. With 187 species distributed over seven islands of moderate size, and hundreds of smaller islands, the system represents a diverse yet tractable fauna that can be useful for testing hypotheses in evolutionary biology, island biogeography, community ecology, invasion biology and other disciplines.
It would be remiss to conclude this introduction without a note of recognition and thanks to the people of Fiji. Mann (1921) wrote in the introduction of his own treatise on Fijian ants, “I shall remember the native Fijians…as the kindliest, most hospitable folk I have known.” Eighty-nine years later, we both share those sentiments and add our admiration for the Fijians’ thoughtful stewardship of their native lands. We hope this small study will be useful for scientific discovery and conservation of Fiji’s fascinating natural heritage in the generations to come.