, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 151-163

Impact of Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) on an arboreal ant community in Doñana National Park, Spain

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Abstract

Due to the invasive character of the exotic Argentine ant (Linepithema humile), its use of aphids in trees, and the ecological importance of the Doñana National Park (Spain) that is invaded by this species, we designed a study to analyze the extent of the problem with native species of arboreal ants. By searching for ‘de visu’ the species that inhabited 182 cork trees, we found out that the structure of the community of native arboreal ants has been greatly influenced by interspecific competition. The introduced species L. humile and the native species Crematogaster scutellaris and Lasius brunneus are dominant, while Camponotus lateralis and Camponotus truncatus are subordinate species associated with C. scutellaris. The distribution of the species in the trees depends on these relationships. Species richness is determined by tree size, thus, when a tree is large enough all native species may appear together. However, in areas colonized by L. humile, this is the only species occupying the tree, regardless of tree size. L. humile is displacing native arboreal ant species as shown by the fact that from 1992 to 2000 the exotic species occupied 23 new cork trees (of the 182 studied) previously inhabited by native species.