Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Biological Sciences


Elizabeth Walsh

Second Advisor

William P. Mackay


Ants of the genus Procryptocerus (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) are characterized by the protrusion of the clypeus forming a broad nasus and antennal scrobes over the eyes. The toruli are located directly posterior to the flanks of the nasus opposite to each other. The vertex is deflexed in most species. I present an in-group comparison of the external morphology focusing on the workers. I also present a general morphology for gynes and males. I analize previously mentioned characters as well as new ones, and clarify their character states in different species. For the metasoma I propose a new system of ant metasomal somite nomenclature applicable to Aculeata in general. Finally, a glossary of morphological terms is offered for the genus. Most of the terminology can be used in other members of the Formicidae and Aculeata. In the second chapter seven groups of 72 species of Procryptocerus are characterized using UPGMA. All groups and species of the spinosus groups are described. The third chapter is devoted to the Biogeography. The genus is endemic to the Neotropics from central Mexico to northern Argentina, excluding the Caribbean islands, except Trinidad and Tobago. The species distribution depicts a northward (Mesoamerica-Northwestern South America) component and southward (Panama to southern Brazil) component. The two components overlap between Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. South America is subdivided into the South America-northern Andes omponent and a component including Southeastern Colombia and Ecuador, and southern Venezuela to southern Brazil. In turn, this component shows congruent distribution of several endemic species forming a northern Amazonian subcomponent and a southern Paraná Forest in southern Brazil that includes a narrower endemic area, the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Most species are recorded at low elevations 230 below 1300 m, but the higher elevations Northern Andes of South America are considered to harbor high diversity and endemicity. Richness and distribution of species are considered to be more related to ecological conditions than to elevation or latitude. These ants are tree-branch dependent as a nest site. Most species of plants have been recorded for Mesoamerica and Northern South America including cloud rain forests. The relationship between areas combining the presence and absence of species into Morrone's (2006) scheme of provinces as endemic areas, and running a euclidean cluster analysis, showed the following results. The Paraná Forest, Atlantic Forest in southern Brazil, Napo (Ecuador), Cauca (Colombia, Ecuador), Magdalena (Colombia) and Choco (western of Panama, Colombia and Ecuador) provinces were independent from each other. Mesoamerica resulted in a unified area, as well as the large region composed by northern, central and southern Amazon with the Chacoan Subregion (Cerrado, Caatinga). This study shows that Procryptocerus is a poorly explored genus and more collections are required to reach a better understanding of its taxonomy and biogeography.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

304 pages

File Format


Rights Holder

Francisco Serna