David General of Palawan State University, The Philippines and Gary Alpert of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University have discovered nine genera of ants that had never been recorded before in the Philippines. Another two new genera were discovered by other researchers in a remote mountain region. The study was published here
as the 200th jubilee issue of the open access journal Zookeys. There of the new ant genera are pictured above.
The researchers estimate that about 30% of all currently known ant genera have been recorded in the Philippines, with a land area roughly the size of Italy or Arizona. At least 474 species of ants are known from the archipelago. In addition, several dozen new species remain to be formally described and given scientific names.
General says, "New species have been found even in highly disturbed places like university campuses."
Dr. Alpert says, "The complex blend of climatic diversity, geologic history and island structure of the country has likely led to rapid development of new ant genera and species, a phenomenon that deserves much further exploration."
The new ant discoveries were made on a private reforestation project on the fringe of a single protected area, the Mt. Isarog Natural Park, on Luzon Island. The researchers also report the sad news that the study site was poached and all the trees have been cut down, wiping out 27 years of stewardship. Habitat destruction continues to threaten the ants of the Philippines and the plants and animals that depend on them.
Photo: Image courtesy of Gary D. Alpert and David M. General