Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ant Invasions: Many ants introduced, not all establish.

Andrew V. Suarez, David A. Holway, and Philip S. Ward. 2005. The role of opportunity in the unintentional introduction of nonnative ants PNAS 102: 17032-35.

A longstanding goal in the study of biological invasions is to predict why some species are successful invaders, whereas others are not. To understand this process, detailed information is required concerning the pool of species that have the opportunity to become established. Here we develop an extensive database of ant species unintentionally transported to the continental United States and use these data to test how opportunity and species-level ecological attributes affect the probability of establishment. This database includes an amount of information on failed introductions that may be unparalleled for any group of unintentionally introduced insects. We found a high diversity of species (232 species from 394 records), 12% of which have become established in the continental United States. The probability of establishment increased with the number of times a species was transported (propagule pressure) but was also influenced by nesting habit. Ground nesting species were more likely to become established compared with arboreal species. These results highlight the value of developing similar databases for additional groups of organisms transported by humans to obtain quantitative data on the first stages of the invasion process: opportunity and transport.


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