UAE researcher helps to discover new species of ant - Emirates24|7

UAE researcher helps to discover new species of ant

An independent scientific researcher from Al Ain has contributed to the discovery of a new species of ant, so far known only from the United Arab Emirates and Oman, according to a paper published this month in the authoritative on-line Journal of Natural History.

The paper, by four specialists led by Dr. Mostafa R. Sharaf, of the College of Food and Agriculture Sciences at Saudi Arabia's King Saud University, describes the new ant, whose scientific name is Lepisiota omanensis, as being remarkable because of "its exceptionally long, acute and strongly curved propodeal spines."

These spines are on the propodeum, which is defined as the "first abdominal segment" in wasps, bees and ants.

The paper describes the new species on the basis of five specimens, one of which was collected in Oman, in 2012, two of which were collected in Ain Al Waal, Jebel Hafit, in 2014,and two in the Jebel Akhdar, Oman, in March this year.

Overall, 26 species of ant from the genus Lepisiota have now been identified in the Arabian peninsula out of a total of 81 known species of this type of ant.

The UAE researcher, Huw Roberts, from the Emirates University, notes: "In detailed field studies in the Ain Al Waal area, at the foot of Jebel Hafit, I have so far recorded well over 400 species of insects, most of which have been identified from specimens by specialists from around the world."

"This ant species is the first from the site to be described as new to science. But there are a few more insects or spiders that may soon be confirmed as new as well. In addition to that, over 30 species are confirmed as firsts for the UAE, including one that had never before been observed in Arabia."

"This discovery shows that we still have much to learn about the wildlife and biodiversity of the United Arab Emirates," he added.

Roberts' study, which has been supported by the Mohammed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (www.speciesconservation.org), will be completed later this year.

His report will include a list of animal and plant species recorded at the site over a two year period between January 2014 and December 2015.

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