Biogeography of Iberian Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
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Species richnessSpecies occurrenceEndemic speciesDistribution rangesDispersal routesCentre of originRefugium areas
Tinaut, A.; Ruano, F. Biogeography of Iberian Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Diversity 2021, 13, 88. [https://doi.org/10.3390/d13020088]
SponsorshipSpanish Government RTA2015-00012-C02-02; Instituto de Investigacion Agropecuaria (INIA); European Commission
Ants are highly diverse in the Iberian Peninsula (IP), both in species richness (299 cited species) and in number of endemic species (72). The Iberian ant fauna is one of the richest in the broader Mediterranean region, it is similar to the Balkan Peninsula but lower than Greece or Israel, when species richness is controlled by the surface area. In this first general study on the biogeography of Iberian ants, we propose seven chorological categories for grouping thems. Moreover, we also propose eight biogeographic refugium areas, based on the criteria of “refugia-within-refugium” in the IP. We analysed species richness, occurrence and endemism in all these refugium areas, which we found to be significantly different as far as ant similarity was concerned. Finally, we collected published evidence of biological traits, molecular phylogenies, fossil deposits and geological processes to be able to infer the most probable centre of origin and dispersal routes followed for the most noteworthy ants in the IP. As a result, we have divided the Iberian myrmecofauna into four biogeographical groups: relict, Asian-IP disjunct, Baetic-Rifan and Alpine. To sum up, our results support biogeography as being a significant factor for determining the current structure of ant communities, especially in the very complex and heterogenous IP. Moreover, the taxonomic diversity and distribution patterns we describe in this study highlight the utility of Iberian ants for understanding the complex evolutionary history and biogeography of the Iberian Peninsula.