Impacts of Argentine ants on avian nesting success
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Biological invasions can have severe and widespread impacts on ecological communities. A few species of ants have become particularly damaging invaders but quantitative data of their impacts on many taxa is still lacking. We provide experimental evidence using artificial nests baited with quail eggs that the invasive Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) can be a significant avian nest predator – Argentine ants recruited to more nests and in higher abundance than the native ant species they displace. However, at a site invaded by Argentine ants, we monitored over 400 nests of a ground-nesting species, the Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis), and found that less than 2% of nests failed as a result of Argentine ant predation/infestation. A review of the literature also suggests that Argentine ants may not be a serious threat to bird nests relative to other predators or parasites. However, invasive ants with the capability of overwhelming prey though stinging (specifically the red-imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta), may have a higher impact on avian nesting success.
Keywords.Ant invasions Argentine ants Linepithema humile red imported fire ant Solenopsis invicta
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