Biological Invasions

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 501-507

First online:

Linking Temporal and Spatial Scales in the Study of an Argentine Ant Invasion

  • Nicole E. HellerAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Stanford University Email author 
  • , Nathan J. SandersAffiliated withDepartment of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee
  • , Deborah M. GordonAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Stanford University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Our long-term study of an invasion of Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) in a 481-ha biological preserve in Northern California links multiple spatial and temporal scales. We have investigated, at local spatial scales of tens of meters, how nests spread and contract seasonally and from year to year. Microsatellite analysis shows population genetic structure on the scale of about 100 m. At the landscape scale, we have surveyed the spread and impact of Argentine ants in the biological preserve since 1993, and have found high variability both seasonally and from year to year. Here, we describe how seasonal patterns in nesting behavior at the local scale help to explain how the location of the invasion edge changes. Thus, the growth and spread of nests on the scale of tens of meters, from season to season, produce the dynamics of the invasion from year to year at the scale of hundreds of meters.


colony invasion edge invasive species Linepithema humile long-term nest spread supercolony