Social Parasite Ants in the Alps: a New Site of the Vulnerable Myrmica myrmicoxena and New Uppermost Altitudinal Limit for M. microrubra




inquilinism, species rarity, social parasitism, IUCN, vulnerable species, Italy


We conducted a survey on the Alpine fauna of one of the largest Natural Park of the Italian Alps (Stelvio National Park) in the framework of a broad ecological monitoring of Alpine biodiversity. A two-years standardized sampling employing pitfall traps along a 1200 m altitudinal gradient led to the discovery of two interesting inquiline social parasite ants of the genus Myrmica: M. myrmicoxena Forel, 1895 and M. microrubra Seifert, 1993. Myrmica myrmicoxena, which is classified as Vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List, was so far known from only three sites across a narrow geographic range between Italy and Switzerland. Our data support the previous hypothesis over its ecology and host association. Myrmica microrubra is considered an incipient species of high evolutionary interest, sometimes regarded as an intraspecific form of M. rubra. While having a wide distribution in Europe, its presence in Italy was hitherto known only from a single site, and our record extends its altitudinal distribution limit in Europe upwards by about 600 m.


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Author Biography

  • Enrico Schifani, University of Parma
    Department of Chemistry, Life Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, PhD student


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