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India has had an active and varied geological history, sitting as it does on a tectonic plate which separated from Gondwanaland during the late Cretaceous, then collided with Eurasia in the Coenozoic. The collision led to the formation of Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas. This varied geological history has led to the emergence of a wide diversity of flora and fauna in India.

Because of this history, and because it has tropical and temperate forest, deserts, mountains and extensive costal areas India is a highly biodiverse region.

The ant fauna is representative of this diversity, and includes 12 of the 22 known subfamilies (Aenictinae, Amblyoponinae, Cerapachyinae, Dolichoderinae, Dorylinae, Ectatomminae, Formicinae, Leptanillinae, Myrmicinae, Ponerinae, Proceratiinae, Pseudomyrmecinae). The current species list includes approximately 600 species from 80 genera and will continue to increase in number as researchers begin to systematically explore the diverse habitats of ants across the region. Ants in India occupy a variety of habitats such as leaf litter, trees, soil, and dead logs, while tramp species prefer human-modified habitats.

Myrmicinae forms the bulk of Indian ant diversity (45%) with Pheidole and Crematogaster having the most species. The subfamily Formicinae is the second largest ant group (25% of species), with Camponotus and Polyrhachis constituting the majority of the diversity. The subfamily Ponerinae contributes about 14% of species of which Leptogenys the most diverse.

Five Indian ant species are on the IUCN red list. The majority of catalogued species are of Indo-Malayan origin.

Tags: India | Evolution

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