, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 43-53

Behavioral and Genetic Differentiation Between Native and Introduced Populations of the Argentine Ant

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In this paper, we examine the hypothesis that reduced intraspecific aggression underlies the competitive prowess of Argentine ants in their introduced range. Specifically, we test three predictions of this hypothesis by comparing the genetic diversity, behavior, and ecology of Argentine ants in their native range to introduced populations. Differences between native and introduced populations of Argentine ants were consistent with our predictions. Introduced populations of the Argentine ant appear to have experienced a population bottleneck at the time of introduction, as evidenced by much reduced variation in polymorphic microsatellite DNA markers. Intraspecific aggression was rare in introduced populations but was common in native populations. Finally, in contrast to the Argentine ant's ecological dominance throughout its introduced range, it did not appear dominant in the native ant assemblages studied in Argentina. Together these results identify a possible mechanism for the widespread success of the Argentine ant in its introduced range.