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The Pheidole perpusilla group contains species with 10-segmented antennae. The taxonomic status of the group as outlined by Wilson (2003) is as follows:
gemmula Wilson 2003. Amazonian Peru.
globularia Wilson 2003. Ecuador.
perpusilla Emery 1894. Panama to Amazonian Brazil.
= decem Forel 1901. Trinidad.
= emersoni Wheeler 1922. Guyana.
zeteki M. R. Smith 1947. Panama.
There is still plenty of confusion about what constitutes a species in this complex, and more work is needed. Species differences have been largely based on differences in sculpture on the face and pronotum. However, we have seen considerable variation in face sculpture among material from La Selva Biological Station, and we now consider this to be intraspecific variation within one population.
Pheidole perpusilla was described from Belem as being like flavens, with the same sculpture. This implies an entirely foveolate mesosoma and face. MCZ material that has 10-segmented antennae and completely foveolate face and mesosoma includes numerous collections from northern South America and collections from BCI, including the types of zeteki. Wilson kept perpusilla and zeteki as distinct species, with perpusilla having longitudinal rugulae that extend over the entire face of the major, and zeteki having longitudinal rugulae restricted to the anterior half. Wilson reported both species from BCI. We suspect the details of major face sculpture is intraspecifically variable and doubt there will be evidence for two sympatric species on BCI. Pheidole zeteki should be viewed as a potential synonym of perpusilla.
Wilson synonymized P. decem under perpusilla, and described the minor worker of perpusilla as having face and mesosoma completely foveolate and opaque. Yet the original description of decem describes the pronotum as smooth and shining. As noted above, such sculpture could be intraspecifically variable in perpusilla, and Wilson's synonymization of decem correct, but if so Wilson's diagnosis of perpusilla needs to be modified to include the variation.
At La Selva Biological Station what we are calling perpusilla has been frequently collected, and most specimens have a shallowly foveolate face and pronotum. The sculpture contrasts with the more strongly foveolate and opaque surface of perpusilla material from BCI. The few collections from the southern Pacific lowlands have a completely smooth and shiny face and pronotum, like the species gemmula and globularia from Ecuador and Peru. We used to consider these to be a different species, but further collecting at La Selva revealed variability in the degree of shininess on the face, and one collection approached the condition seen in Pacific slope material. So we are using the oldest name in the complex to refer to all the Costa Rica material until further research shows evidence of multiple species.
Wilson, E. O. 2003. Pheidole in the New World: A Dominant, Hyperdiverse Ant Genus. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass
Found most commonly in these habitats: 1 times found in STR 2050, 7 times found in montane wet forest, 7 times found in wet forest canopy, 3 times found in CCL 400, 5 times found in CES 300m., 3 times found in SSO 350m, 2 times found in Port of entry, 1 times found in dry forest stream edge, 3 times found in SAT, 3 times found in Entre el SHO y SSE, ...
Collected most commonly using these methods or in the following microhabitats: 40 times Fogging, 6 times Search, 9 times Berlese, 7 times Malaise, 2 times miniWinkler, 2 times flight intercept trap, 2 times Winkler, 1 times Foggin
Elevations: collected from 5 - 1200 meters, 85 meters average