, Volume 105, Issue 3, pp 405-412

Exploitation and interference competition between the invasive Argentine ant, Linepithema humile , and native ant species

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Interactions between the invasive Argentine ant, Linepithema humile, and native ant species were studied in a 450-ha biological reserve in northern California. Along the edges of the invasion, the presence of Argentine ants significantly reduced the foraging success of native ant species, and vice versa. Argentine ants were consistently better than native ants at exploiting food sources: Argentine ants found and recruited to bait more consistently and in higher numbers than native ant species, and they foraged for longer periods throughout the day. Native ants and Argentine ants frequently fought when they recruited to the same bait, and native ant species were displaced from bait during 60% of these encounters. In introduction experiments, Argentine ants interfered with the foraging of native ant species, and prevented the establishment of new colonies of native ant species by preying upon winged native ant queens. The Argentine ants' range within the preserve expanded by 12 ha between May 1993 and May 1994, and 13 between September 1993 and September 1994, with a corresponding reduction of the range of native ant species. Although some native ants persist locally at the edges of the invasion of Argentine ants, most eventually disappear from invaded areas. Both interference and exploitation competition appear to be important in the displacement of native ant species from areas invaded by Argentine ants.