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Experimental evidence that dispersal drives ant community assembly in human-altered ecosystems

Title: Experimental evidence that dispersal drives ant community assembly in human-altered ecosystems.
Name(s): King, Joshua R., author
Tschinkel, Walter R., author
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Date Issued: 2016-01
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: A key shortcoming in our understanding of exotic species' success is that it is not known how post-introduction dispersal contributes to the success of exotic species and the reassembly of invaded communities. Exotic and native species face poorly understood competition-colonization trade-offs in heterogeneous landscapes of natural and anthropogenic habitats. We conducted three experiments that tested how ant queen behavior during dispersal affects community composition. Using experimental plots, we tested whether (1) different types of habitat disturbance and (2) different sizes of habitat disturbance affected the abundance of newly mated queens landing in the plots. The three most abundant species captured were the exotic fire ant Solenopsis invicta, and the native species Brachymyrmex depilis, and S.pergandei, respectively. When queens were considered collectively, more queens landed in plowed, sand-added, and roadside plots than in control or mow plots, in other words, in the more heavily disturbed plots. We also tested (3) the effect of habitat manipulations on the survival of newly mated fire ant queens (Solenopsis invicta). Soil disturbance (tilling), lack of shade, and removal (poisoning) of the ant community resulted in the greatest fire ant colony survivorship. Collectively, experiments revealed that both exotic and native newly mated ant queens select open, human-altered ecosystems for founding new colonies. The selection of such habitats by fire ant queens leads to their successful colony founding and ultimately to their dominance in those habitats. Selection of disturbed habitats is therefore advantageous for exotic species but is an ecological trap for native species because they do not often succeed in founding colonies in these habitats.
Identifier: FSU_libsubv1_wos_000369852600025 (IID), 10.1890/15-1105.1 (DOI)
Keywords: argentine ant, arthropod-community, biological invasion, disturbance, exotic ants, fire ant, global change, habitat selection, hymenoptera-formicidae, mass effects, Solenopsis invicta, solenopsis-invicta, species coexistence, species sorting, upland ecosystems
Publication Note: The publisher’s version of record is available at
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Owner Institution: FSU
Is Part Of: Ecology.
Issue: iss. 1, vol. 97

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King, J. R., & Tschinkel, W. R. (2016). Experimental evidence that dispersal drives ant community assembly in human-altered ecosystems. Ecology. Retrieved from