Systematics of the ant genus Proceratium Roger (Hymenoptera, Formicidae, Proceratiinae) in China - with descriptions of three new species based on micro-CT enhanced next-generation-morphology

The genus Proceratium Roger, 1863 contains cryptic, subterranean ants that are seldom sampled and rare in natural history collections. Furthermore, most Proceratium specimens are extremely hairy and, due to their enlarged and curved gaster, often mounted suboptimally. As a consequence, the poorly observable physical characteristics of the material and its scarcity result in a rather challenging alpha taxonomy of this group. In this study, the taxonomy of the Chinese Proceratium fauna is reviewed and updated by combining examinations of traditional light microscopy with x-ray microtomography (micro-CT). Based on micro-CTscans of seven out of eight species, virtual 3D surface models were generated that permit in-depth comparative analyses of specimen morphology in order to overcome the difficulties to examine physical material of Proceratium. Eight Chinese species are recognized, of which three are newly described: Proceratium bruelheidei Staab, Xu & Hita Garcia, sp. n. and P. kepingmai sp. n. belong to the P. itoi clade and have been collected in the subtropical forests of southeast China, whereas P. shohei sp. n. belongs to the P.stictum clade and it is only known from a tropical forest of Yunnan Province. Proceratium nujiangense Xu, 2006 syn. n. is proposed as a junior synonym of P. zhaoi Xu, 2000. These taxonomic acts raise the number of known Chinese Proceratium species to eight. In order to integrate the new species into the existing taxonomic system and to facilitate identifications, an illustrated key to the worker caste of all Chinese species is provided, supplemented by species accounts with high-resolution montage images and still images of volume renderings of 3D models based on micro-CT. Moreover, cybertype datasets are provided for the new species, as well as digital datasets for the remaining species that include the raw micro-CT scan data, 3D surface models, 3D rotation videos, and all light photography and micro-CT still images. These datasets are available online (Dryad, Staab et al. 2018,

Michael Staab, Francisco Hita Garcia, Cong Liu, Xheng-Hui Xu, & Evan P. Economo