ISSN 1911-2173


Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of Alberta: A key to species

based primarily on the worker caste

CJAI 22 July 4, 2013


James R.N. Glasier1, John H. Acorn2, Scott E. Nielsen2, and Heather Proctor3

1 Corresponding author: Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G

2 Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2H1,

3 Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2E9

| Abstract | Introduction | Materials | Discussion | Checklist | Glossary | Species Key | Acknowledgments | References | PDF (11MB) | Cite this Article |


Worldwide, ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) are recognized as important ecosystem engineers that affect nutrient cycling, soil structure, seed dispersal, and the populations of many other invertebrates (Briese 1982; Hölldobler and Wilson 1990; Jones et al. 1994; Folgarait 1998). From an anthropocentric point of view, many ants are considered pests because of their abilities to disrupt lawns and infest homes, and their habit of viciously defending their colonies through biting and stinging (Klotz et al. 2008). Although ants are widespread and abundant throughout Alberta, little is known about their ecology or diversity in the province.

The study of Alberta’s ant fauna began with Sharplin (1966), who assembled an annotated list of 40 species known to occur in the province. Sharplin built on the faunistic and revisionary works of such American workers as Wheeler (1905, 1913), Creighton (1950), Wilson (1955), and Wheeler and Wheeler (1963). Since then, a number of new species have been described from Alberta (Buschinger 1979, 1983; Heinze 1989; Mackay and Buschinger 2002; Buschinger and Schultz 2008), five genera with representatives in Alberta have been partly or entirely revised or reviewed (Francour 1973 for Formica; Francour and Buschinger 1985 for Formicoxenus; Mackay 1993 for Dolichoderus; Mackay 2000 for Temnothorax; Hansen and Klotz 2005 for Camponotus), the faunas of a number of relevant regions have received treatments (Gregg 1972; Yensen et al. 1977; Wheeler and Wheeler 1986; 1988, 1997; Naumann et al. 1999; Mackay and Mackay 2002; Heron 2005; Clark and Blom 2007), and a few ecological studies have focused on Albertan ants (e.g. Wu and Wong 1987; Savolainen and Deslippe 2001; Perry 2004; Newton et al. 2011). In addition, a number of overarching treatments have been published that deal with ants globally (Hölldobler and Wilson 1990; Bolton 1994, 1995), in North America (Fisher and Cover 2007), or in urban environments in North America and Europe (Klotz et al. 2008). Work in Alberta over the past 45 years, and especially the recent field studies of Glasier (2012), have more than doubled the number of species known from the province, making it worthwhile to provide a key to this ecologically important fauna.  The key was initially based on a variety of existing publications (Creighton 1950; Wilson 1955; Wheeler and Wheeler 1963; Francoeur 1973; Francoeur and Buschinger 1985; Wheeler and Wheeler 1986; Mackay and Mackay 2002; Hansen and Klotz 2005), and modified for Alberta, based on our experience with the fauna.