Natural history notes on worker size, colony size, and nest structure of Azteca muelleri Emery, 1893 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Cecropia glaziovii (Rosales: Urticaceae) from the Atlantic Forest


  • Victor Nagatani Universidade Mogi das Cruzes
  • Nathalia S. da Silva Universidade Mogi das Cruzes
  • Emília Z. Albuquerque National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution; School of Life Science, Arizona State University
  • André L. Gaglioti Instituto de Botânica, Núcleo de Pesquisa e Curadoria do Herbário SP
  • Maria S. C. Morini Universidade Mogi das Cruzes



insect-plant interactions, morphometrics, mutualism, polymorphism, rain forest


Mutualistic association between Azteca Forel, 1878 ants and Cecropia Loefl. plants are one of the most studied interactions in Neotropics, however, natural history studies of Azteca species still poorly investigated due to the great effort required to conduct detailed descriptive studies. Here, we describe biological aspects of Azteca muelleri Emery, 1893 nesting in Cecropia glaziovii Snethl. in a fragment of Atlantic Forest, addressing (a) colony size; (b) nest distribution on the tree; and (c) worker and queen morphometrics. We collected two C. glaziovii saplings and counted characteristics of the nests and plants. We randomly selected 140 workers to measure and to determine whether intraspecific polymorphism occurs. Workers, immatures, and mealybugs were present in all hollow internodes of plant, and a queen was found. We found isometric morphological variation in A. muelleri. Our study provides new data to understand the biology of A. muelleri nesting in C. glaziovii, one of the most species-rich genera of arboreal ants known for the neotropics.


Download data is not yet available.


Ayres, M.; Ayres Júnior, M.; Ayres, D. L.; Santos, A. (2007) Aplicações estatísticas nas áreas das ciências biomédicas. Version 5.0. Belém: Instituto Mamirauá.

Davidson, D. W.; Fisher, B. L. (1991) Symbiosis of ants with Cecropia as a function of light regime. Antplant interactions, 289-309.

Del-Claro, K.; Rodrigues-Morales, D.; Calixto, E. S.; Martins, A. S.; Torezan-Silingardi, H. M. (2019) Ant pollination of Paepalanthus lundii (Eriocaulaceae) in Brazilian savanna. Annals of Botany, 123(7): 1159-1165. doi: 10.1093/aob/mcz021

Guenárd, B.; Weiser, M.; Gomez, K.; Narula, N.; Economo, E. P. (2017) The global ant biodiversity informatics (GABI) database: a synthesis of ant species geographic distribution. Myrmecological News, 24: 83-89.

Harada, A. Y.; Benson, W. W. (1988) Espécies de Azteca (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) especializadas em Cecropia spp. (Moraceae): distribuição geográfica e considerações ecológicas. Revista Brasileira de Entomologia, 32(3-4): 423-435.

Johnson, C.; Agostini, D.; Delabie, J. H.; Dumpert, K.; Williams, D. J.; Von Tschirnhaus, M.; Maschwitz, U. (2001) Acropyga and Azteca ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) with scale insects (Sternorrhyncha: Coccoidea): 20 million years of intimate symbiosis. American Museum Novitates, 2001(3335): 1-18. doi: 10.1206/0003-0082(2001)335<0001:AAAAHF>2.0.CO;2

Kaspari, M. (1996) Worker size and seed size selection by harvester ants in a neotropical forest. Oecologia, 105: 397-404. doi: 10.1007/BF00328743

Kaspari, M.; Weiser, M. D. (1999) The size–grain hypothesis and interspecific scaling in ants. Functional Ecology, 13(4): 530-538. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2435.1999.00343.x

Longino, J. T. (1989) Geographic variation and community structure in an ant-plant mutualism: Azteca and Cecropia in Costa Rica. Biotropica, 21(2): 126-132. doi: 10.2307/2388703

Longino, J. T. (1991a) Azteca ants in Cecropia trees: taxonomy, colony structure, and behaviour. In: Huxley, C. R.; Cutler, D. F. (Eds.), Ant-plant interactions, pp. 271-288. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Longino, J. T. (1991b) Taxonomy of the Cecropia-inhabiting Azteca ants. Journal of Natural History, 25: 1571-1602. doi: 10.1080/00222939100770981

Longino, J. T. (2007) A taxonomic review of the genus Azteca (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Costa Rica and a global revision of the aurita group. Zootaxa, 1491: 1-63.

Marting, P. R.; Kallman, N. M.; Wcislo, W. T.; Pratt, S. C. (2018b) Ant-plant sociometry in the Azteca-Cecropia mutualism. Scientific Reports, 8: 1-15. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-36399-9

Marting, P. R.; Wcislo, W. T; Pratt, S. C. (2018a) Colony personality and plant health in the Azteca-Cecropia mutualism. Behavioral Ecology, 29(1): 264-271. doi: 10.1093/beheco/arx165

Mayer, V. E.; Nepel, M.; Blatrix, R.; Oberhauser, F. B.; Fiedler, K.; Schönenberger, J.; Voglmayr, H. (2018) Transmission of fungal partners to incipient Cecropia-tree ant colonies. PloS One, 13: e0192207. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0192207

Morais, C. H.; Benson, W. W. (1988) Recolonização de vegetação de cerrado após queimada, por formigas arborícolas. Revista Brasileira de Biologia, 48: 459-466.

Oliveira, G. V.; Correa, M. M.; Delabie, J. H. (2015a) Interação inseto-planta: aspectos biológicos e ecológicos do mutualismo Cecropia-Azteca. EntomoBrasilis, 8(2): 85-90. doi: 10.12741/ebrasilis.v8i2.486

Oliveira, G. V.; Corrêa, M. M.; Góes, I. M.; Machado, A. F.; De Sá-Neto, R. J.; Delabie, J. H. (2015b) Interactions between Cecropia (Urticaceae) and ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) along a longitudinal east-west transect in the Brazilian Northeast. Annales de la Société Entomologique de France (NS), 51(2): 153-160. doi: 10.1080/00379271.2015.1061231

Oliveira, R. F.; Silva, R. R.; Souza-Campana, D. R.; Nakano, M. A.; Morini, M. S. C. (2015) Worker morphology of the ant Gnamptogenys striatula Mayr (Formicidae, Ectatomminae) in different landscapes from the Atlantic Forest domain. Revista Brasileira de Entomologia, 59(1): 21-27. doi: 10.1016/j.rbe.2015.02.002

Rocha, C. F. D.; Bergallo, H. G. (1992) Bigger ant colonies reduce herbivory and herbivore residence time on leaves of an ant-plant: Azteca muelleri vs. Coelomera ruficornis on Cecropia pachystachya. Oecologia, 91: 249-252. doi: 10.1007/BF00317792

Rosumeck, F. B. (2017) Natural history of ants: what we (do not) know about trophic and temporal niches of neotropical species. Sociobiology, 64(3): 244-255. doi: 10.13102/sociobiology.v64i3.1623

RStudio Team (2019) RStudio: Integrated Development Environment for R. Boston: RStudio.

Vasconcelos, H. L.; Casimiro, A. B. (1997) Influence of Azteca alfari ants on the exploitation of Cecropia trees by a leaf‐cutting ant. Biotropica, 29: 84-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-7429.1997.tb00009.x

Vieira, A. S.; Faccenda, O.; Antonialli-Júnior, W. F.; Fernandes, W. D. (2010) Nest structure and occurrence of three species of Azteca (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) in Cecropia pachystachya (Urticaceae) in non-floodable and floodable pantanal areas. Revista Brasileira de Entomologia, 54(3): 441-445. doi: 10.1590/S0085-56262010000300014

Wills, B. D.; Powell, S.; Rivera, M. D.; Suarez, A. V. (2018) Correlates and consequences of worker polymorphism in ants. Annual Review of Entomology, 63: 575-598. doi: 10.1146/annurev-ento-020117-043357




How to Cite

Nagatani, V., da Silva, N. S., Albuquerque, E. Z. ., Gaglioti, A. L. ., & Morini, M. S. C. (2021). Natural history notes on worker size, colony size, and nest structure of Azteca muelleri Emery, 1893 (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Cecropia glaziovii (Rosales: Urticaceae) from the Atlantic Forest. Entomological Communications, 3, ec03017.



Scientific Note