An observational study was conducted in an oil palm plantation in Tanjung Sepat, Selangor, Malaysia on August until September 2007 to note the decomposition process of pigs and their related faunal succession. We collected six species of ants (Formicidae) from 3 subfamilies: Formicinae (Oecophylla smaragdina and Anoplolepis gracilipes), Myrmicinae (Tetramorium sp. and Pheidologeton sp.) and Ponerinae (Odontoponera sp. and Diacamma sp.) that were associated with pig carcasses placed on the ground. Oecophylla smaragdina, Pheidologeton sp. and Tetramorium sp. were found on a partially burnt pig carcass whereas the other species were recovered from unburned pig carcass. These ants predated on fly eggs, larvae, pupae and adults. Ants could be found at all stages of decomposition starting from fresh until dry stage. Predatory ants can reduce fly population and thus may affect the rate of carcass decomposition but this was not seen in our study. Even though O. smaragdina was seen at all stages of decomposition of the burnt pig, this did not alter much the decomposition process by fly larvae.
This study reported the ant species that were recovered from monkey carcasses in three different ecological habitats in Malaysia. The study was conducted from 9 May - 10 October 2007, 6 May - 6 August 2008 and 26 May - 14 July 2009 in forested area (Gombak, Selangor), coastal area (Tanjong Sepat, Selangor) and highland area (Bukit Cincin, Pahang), respectively. Monkey carcass was used as a model for human decomposition in this study. A total of 4 replicates were used in each of the study sites. Ants were observed to prey on eggs, larvae, pupae and newly emerged flies. This study found that ant species could be found at all stages of decomposition, indicating that ants were not a significant indicator for faunal succession. However, different species of ants were obtained from monkey carcasses placed in different ecological habitats. Cardiocondyla sp. was only found on carcasses placed in the coastal area; while Pheidole longipes, Hypoponera sp. and Pachycondyla sp. were solely found on carcasses placed in the highland area. On the other hand, Pheidologeton diversus and Paratrechina longicornis were found in several ecological habitats. These data suggests that specific ant species can act as geographic indicators for different ecological habitats in forensic entomology cases in Malaysia.
The longlegged ant, Anoplolepis gracilipes (Fr. Smith) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), is a highly invasive species that can aggressively displace other ant species. We conducted laboratory assays to examine interspecies aggression of A. gracilipes versus 15 sympatric ant species found in the urban environment and disturbed habitat in Malaysia: Monomorium pharaonis (L.), Monomorium floricola (Jerdon), Monomorium orientale Mayr, Monomorium destructor (Jerdon), Pheidole parva Mayr, Crematogaster sp., Solenopsis geminata (F.), Tapinoma indicum (Forel), Tapinoma melanocephalum (F.), Technomyrmnex butteli Forel, Dolichoderus thoracicus (Smith), Paratrechina longicornis (Latrielle), Oecophylla smaragdina (F), Camponotus sp., and Tetraponera rufonigra (Jerdon). A. gracilipes showed aggressive behavior toward all opponent species, except the smallest M. orientale. Opponent species size (body size, head width, and mandible width) was significantly correlated with A. gracilipes aggression level and mortality rate. We also found a significant positive relationship between A. gracilipes aggression level and the mortality of the opponent species. The results suggest that invasive populations of A. gracilipes would have the greatest impact on larger ant species. In addition, we examined the intraspecific aggression of A. gracilipes. We found that A. gracilipes from different localities in Malaysia showed intraspecific aggression toward one another. This finding differs from the results of studies conducted in Christmas Island earlier. Differences in the genetic variability among populations may explain these differing results.
To elucidate the evolution of one of the most species-rich ant-plant symbiotic systems, the association between Crematogaster (Myrmicinae) and Macaranga (Euphorbiaceae) in South-East Asia, we conducted a phylogenetic analysis of the ant partners. For the phylogenetic analysis partial mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I and II were sequenced and Maximum Parsimony analysis was performed. The analyzed Crematogaster of the subgenus Decacrema fell into three distinct clades which are also characterized by specific morphological and ecological traits (queen morphology, host-plants, and colony structure). Our results supported the validity of our currently used morphospecies concept for Peninsula Malaysia. However, on a wider geographic range (including North and North-East Borneo) some morphospecies turned out to be species complexes with genetically quite distinct taxa. Our phylogenetic analysis and host association studies do not indicate strict cocladogenesis between the subgenus Decacrema and their Macaranga host-plants because multiple ant taxa occur on quite distinct host-plants belonging to different clades within in the genus Macaranga. These results support the view that host-shifting or host-expansion is common in the ants colonizing Macaranga. Additionally, the considerable geographic substructuring found in the phylogenetic trees of the ants suggests that allopatric speciation has also played a role in the diversification and the current distribution of the Decacrema ants.