, Volume 92, Issue 7, pp 319–323 | Cite as

Intercontinental chemical variation in the invasive ant Wasmannia auropunctata (Roger) (Hymenoptera Formicidae): a key to the invasive success of a tramp species

  • Christine Errard
  • Jacques Delabie
  • Hervé Jourdan
  • Abraham Hefetz
Short Communication


Unicoloniality emerges as a feature that characterizes successful invasive species. Its underlying mechanism is reduced intraspecific aggression while keeping interspecific competitiveness. To that effect, we present here a comparative behavioural and chemical study of the invasive ant Wasmannia auropunctata in parts of its native and introduced ranges. We tested the hypothesis that introduced populations (New Caledonia archipelago) have reduced intraspecific aggression relative to native populations (e.g., Ilhéus area, Brazil) and that this correlates with reduced variability in cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs). As predicted, there was high intraspecific aggression in the Brazilian populations, but no intraspecific aggression among the New Caledonian populations. However, New Caledonian worker W. auropunctata remained highly aggressive towards ants of other invasive species. The chemical data corresponded with the behaviour. While CHCs of ants from the regions of Brazil diverged, the profiles of ants from various localities in New Caledonia showed high uniformity. We suggest that in New Caledonia W. auropunctata appears to behave as a single supercolony, whereas in its native range it acts as a multicolonial species. The uniformity of recognition cues in the New Caledonia ants may reflect a process whereby recognition alleles became fixed in the population, but may also be the consequence of a single introduction event and subsequent aggressive invasion of the ecosystem. Chemical uniformity coupled with low intraspecific but high interspecific aggression, lend credence to the latter hypothesis.


Cuticular Hydrocarbon Nestmate Recognition Invasive Range High Aggression Intraspecific Aggression 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank the Brazilian Cocoa Research Centre (CEPEC/CEPLAC) and its technician Jose Raimundo Maia dos Santos for field assistance. JHCD acknowledges the Brazilian Council of Research (CNPq) for his research grants (process 550701/02-8). We thank Pr. Luc Passera for providing Linepithema humile colonies and four anonymous referees for helpful comments. Thanks to Raymond Jegat and Celine Glaude for assistance in the laboratory. Thanks to Naomi Paz for editing the English


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine Errard
    • 1
  • Jacques Delabie
    • 2
  • Hervé Jourdan
    • 3
  • Abraham Hefetz
    • 4
  1. 1.Institut de Recherche sur la Biologie de l’Insecte, UMR CNRS 6035Université François Rabelais, Faculté des Sciences et TechniquesToursFrance
  2. 2.U.P.A. Laboratório de MirmecologiaConvênio CEPLAC/UESCItabunaBrazil
  3. 3.Ecologie des communautés d’insectes/invasions biologiques, IRDNouméa CedexNouvelle Calédonie
  4. 4.Department of ZoologyGeorge S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv UniversityRamat AvivIsrael

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