Revision of the Plagiolepis schmitzii group with description of Pl. invadens sp. nov. - a new invasive supercolonial species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae).
Using high-resolution stereomicroscopy and exploratory data analyses, a taxonomic revision of the cryptic species close to Plagiolepis schmitzii Forel, 1895, called Pl. schmitzii group, was conducted. Morphology was numerically recorded under highly standardised conditions considering absolute size and 16 shape, pubescence and surface characters. A key to the non-parasitic Westpalaearctic species of the ant genus Plagiolepis Mayr, 1861 is provided which firstly separates, on species group level, the Pl. pygmaea (Latreille) species group, the Pl. pallescens Forel species group and the Pl. schmitzii species group and, finally, on species level, the cryptic species of the latter group. The recognised species of the Pl. schmitzii species group are Pl. schmitzii Forel, 1895 (invasive species), Pl. barbara Santschi, 1911, Pl. atlantis Santschi, 1920 and Pl. invadens sp. nov. (invasive species) that is described as new from a supercolony in Germany. Based on morphological arguments, the taxa Pl. barbara var. madeirensis Emery, 1921, Pl. maura polygyna Santschi, 1922 and Pl. schmitzii var. tingitana Santschi, 1936 are recognised as junior synonyms of Pl. schmitzii, the taxa Pl. schmitzii crosi Santschi, 1920, Pl. pallescens var. kabyla Santschi, 1920 and Pl. perperamus Salata et al., 2018 as junior synonyms of Pl. atlantis and the taxon Pl. maura Santschi, 1920 as junior synonym of Pl. barbara. A concluding comparative section suggests that pre-adaptations for anthropogenous dispersal and transformation to supercoloniality in introduction areas are apparently common traits in Plagiolepis ants.