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Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Collected during the 2016 William H. Cross Expedition to Rabun County Georgia

Joe A. MacGown
Uploaded on 12 July 2016

The 2016 William H. Cross Expedition was held 3-9 June and based in Rabun County, in northeastern Georgia, with most of our collecting being centered in the forested mountain habitat at the Lillian E. Smith Center (LES), Tallulah State Park, and various localities in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Much thanks goes to Tim Menzel, science coordinator at the LES, biology professor at Piedmont College in Georgia, and Mississippi State alumnus, who set us up at the Lillian E. Smith Center, and to Craig Amason, Director of the LES, for approving our stay at the center. The 150 acre center, located in the mountains of northeastern Georgia, is used as an educational outreach center and an artists retreat. The property is named after Lillian E. Smith, a historic justice activist and author who lived on the property. After her death, her family later donated this beautiful mountainous retreat to Piedmont College, which is located about 30 miles away.

We had numerous collectors join us for this year's expedition including Richard Brown, Joe MacGown, Terry Schiefer, JoVonn Hill, Ryan Whitehouse, Jordan Gesell, Margarita Baquero, Luis Santiago, Kyhl Austin (MEM Crew, full week); Josh Basham and Nadeer Youssef (Tennessee State University, 3-6 June); Rick Hobecke (expedition leader) and Joe McHugh (University of Georgia, 6-9 June); Tim Menzel and 3 students (Piedmont College); Mecoptera researchers Wes Bicha (TN) and Takeyuki Nakamura (Hirosaki University, Japan, 6-7 June); and Mincy Moffet and Anna Yellin, researchers for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources who lead us to some fascinating localities and also collected specimens with us on 8 June. Of course, only a few of these collectors were interested in ants.

Overall, we collected 53 species of ants during the trip, including four species not previously reported for Georgia: Aphaenogaster picea (Wheeler), Aphaenogaster rudis Enzmann, Camponotus snellingi Bolton, and Lasius brevicornis Emery and one new state record for South Carolina, Crematogaster vermiculata Emery. The first two species mentioned occur in mountainous habitats in the eastern US, with the blackish colored A. picea typically being found at higher elevations and the related reddish brown A. rudis nesting at lower elevations. Likewise, L. flavus is a small yellow species that we have collected in similar forested mountain habitats in the Smoky Mountains. Camponotus snellingi is a fairly common species in the region, and its somewhat surprising that it had not been reported in the state.

Commonly seen species at the LES included Aphaenogaster rudis, Camponotus pennsylvanicus (DeGeer), Formica integra Nylander, F. subsericea Say, and Lasius alienus (Foerster). We also collected Proceratium crassicorne Emery at the bases of several trees. This interesting looking ant is not a species we typically collect with regularity at a given site. Based on the species list below, it might appear that the number of Strumigenys present at the LES and other localities was low, but this was likely a reflection of collecting methodology. Members of this genus are minute, reddish brown, and very cryptic, and many species live in leaf litter. Sifting through litter to pick specimens out by hand is difficult, therefore, we usually collect litter samples and extract the various arthropod inhabitants including Strumigenys species using Berlese funnels or a similar type of extraction device. However, I had some malfunctions with our portable funnels, and that, coupled with the very rainy weather, limited the samples that could be taken. It is likely that we could significantly add to this species list under better circumstances.

For introduced species, a note is made in parentheses, and new state records are indicated by the asterisk symbol (*). Collecting localities follow species names in brackets. LES = Lillian E. Smith Center, TAL = Tullulah Gorge State Park, CHR = Chattooga River; CHNF = Chattahoochee National Forest (various forested sites); and the following specific sites all located in the Chattahoochee National Forest: CH = Currahee Mountain, HB = Hedden Bog, GM = Glade Mountain, RB = Rabun Bald, CHNF = Chattahoochee National Forest (various forested sites), SB= Serpentine Barrens.

Species List - arranged alphabetically

Aphaenogaster fulva Roger [LES]
*Aphaenogaster picea
(Wheeler) [RB, HB, GM, CHNF]
*Aphaenogaster rudis
Aphaenogaster treatae Forel [SP]
Brachymyrmex depilis Emery [TAL]
Brachyponera chinensis (Emery) (introduced) [TAL, CUR]
Camponotus americanus Mayr [LES, CM, CHNF]
Camponotus castaneus (Latreille) [TAL]
Camponotus chromaiodes Bolton [LES, CM, CHR]
Camponotus decipiens Emery [TAL]
Camponotus nearcticus Emery [LES]
Camponotus pennsylvanicus (DeGeer) [LES, TAL, CHR, GM]
*Camponotus snellingi Bolton [LES ]
Crematogaster ashmeadi Mayr [TAL]
Crematogaster lineolata (Say) [LES]
Crematogaster pilosa Emery [CHR]
*Crematogaster vermiculata Emery [CHR]
Dolichoderus pustulatus Mayr [HB]
Dorymyrmex bureni (Trager) [CM]
Forelius sp.-01 [CM]
Formica biophilica Trager [CM, CHR]
Formica dolosa Buren [GM]
Formica integra Nylander [LES]
Formica pallidefulva Latreille [CHR, GM]
Formica subsericea Say [LES, TAL, HB, GM, CHNF]
Hypoponera opacior (Forel)  [TAL]
Lasius aphidicola (Walsh) [HB]
Lasius americanus Emery  [LES, HB, RB, CHR]
 *Lasius brevicornis Emery [HB]
Monomorium minimum (Buckley)  [GM, CM]
Myrmecina americana Emery [LES, TAL, RB]
Myrmica pinetorum Wheeler [SB]
Myrmica punctiventris Roger [LES, TAL]
Nylanderia faisonensis (Forel) [LES, CHR]
Nylanderia vividula (Nylander) [LES]
Pheidole bicarinata Mayr [LES]
Ponera pennsylvanica Buckley [LES, TAL, HB]
Prenolepis imparis (Say) [LES, TAL, CHR]
Proceratium crassicorne Emery [LES]
Solenopsis carolinensis Forel [GM]
Solenopsis invicta Buren (introduced) [LES, TAL, CHR]
Stenamma diecki Emery [RB, HB]
Stenamma impar Forel [LES]
Stigmatomma pallipes (Haldeman) [LES]
Strumigenys clypeata Roger  [LES]
Strumigenys pergandei Emery [LES]
Strumigenys rostrata Emery [LES]
Tapinoma sessile (Say) [HB, CHR, CHNF, GM]
Temnothorax curvispinosus (Mayr)  [LES, TAL]
Temnothorax longispinosus
(Roger [LES]
Temnothorax pergandei (Emery) [TAL]
Trachymyrmex septentrionalis (McCook) [LES, TAL]