Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 166–173 | Cite as

Community level impacts of an ant invader and food mediated coexistence

Research article


Ant invasions exert a range of effects on recipient communities, from displacement of particular species to more complex community disruption. While species loss has been recorded for a number of invasion events, a little examined aspect of these invasions is the mechanisms for coexistence with resident ant species.The yellow crazy ant, Anoplolepis gracilipes (Smith), is considered one of the world’s worst ant invaders and has recently undergone rapid population growth in Tokelau. We surveyed the ground-dwelling ant fauna in two plots on each of five invaded and three uninvaded islands across two atolls in Tokelau to examine community characteristics of the ant fauna in areas with and without yellow crazy ants. We also used three types of food bait (tuna, jam and peanut butter) to experimentally test if species are able to coexist by consuming different food resources. Anoplolepis gracilipes was found to coexist with two to six other ant species at any one site, and coexisted with a total of 11 ant species. Four species never co-occurred with A. gracilipes. Non-metric multidimensional scaling showed significant differences in community composition and the relative abundance of species between areas that had, and had not, been invaded by A. gracilipes. The number of other ant species was significantly lower in communities invaded by the yellow crazy ant, but did not decline with increasing A. gracilipes abundance, indicating that impacts were independent of population density. The yellow crazy ant dominated all tuna and jam baits, but had a low attendance on peanut butter, allowing four other ant species to access this resource. Our results demonstrate community level impacts of an ant invader on a tropical oceanic atoll and suggest that differing use of food resources can facilitate coexistence in ant communities.


Anoplolepis gracilipes interspecific competition food preference invasive species ant mosaic hypothesis 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesVictoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Ministry of Agriculture and ForestryWellingtonNew Zealand
  3. 3.Animal Control TechnologiesSomertonAustralia

Personalised recommendations