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A New (Old), Invasive Ant in the Hardwood Forests of Eastern North America and Its Potentially Widespread Impacts

By Benoit Guénard and Robert R. Dunn

Abstract

Biological invasions represent a serious threat for the conservation of biodiversity in many ecosystems. While many social insect species and in particular ant species have been introduced outside their native ranges, few species have been successful at invading temperate forests. In this study, we document for the first time the relationship between the abundance of the introduced ant, Pachycondyla chinensis, in mature forests of North Carolina and the composition, abundance and diversity of native ant species using both a matched pair approach and generalized linear models. Where present, P. chinensis was more abundant than all native species combined. The diversity and abundance of native ants in general and many individual species were negatively associated with the presence and abundance of P. chinensis. These patterns held regardless of our statistical approach and across spatial scales. Interestingly, while the majority of ant species was strongly and negatively correlated with the abundance and presence of P. chinensis, a small subset of ant species larger than P. chinensis was either as abundant or even more abundant in invaded than in uninvaded sites. The large geographic range of this ant species combined with its apparent impact on native species make it likely to have cascading consequences on eastern forests in years to come, effects mediated by the specifics of its life history which is very different from those of other invasive ants. The apparent ecological impacts of P. chinensis are in addition to public health concerns associated with this species due to its sometimes, deadly sting

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Public Library of Science
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:2908120
Provided by: PubMed Central

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