Biological Invasions

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 373–377 | Cite as

A case study of human exacerbation of the invasive species problem: transport and establishment of polygyne fire ants in Tallahassee, Florida, USA

  • Joshua R. KingEmail author
  • Walter R. Tschinkel
  • Kenneth G. Ross
Original Paper


Understanding how exotic invasive species are spread is fundamental for ecology and conservation biology. Human transport has become one of the primary modes of dispersal for exotic species. We examined how the multiple queen, or polygyne, social form of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta is spread along roadsides in Tallahassee, Florida, USA. We then determined the likely source of this expanding population, which was a central soil depot. A survey of road maintenance practices in counties of several southeastern states and Texas revealed that the use of a central soil depot is a common practice. Road maintenance therefore may be the primary source for the establishment of new polygyne fire ant populations in this region and elsewhere. Control efforts focused on the soil depots will help to limit further spread of polygyne fire ants and perhaps other invasive organisms, particularly invasive weeds.


Human transport Invasive ants Polygyny Roadsides Soil depots Solenopsis invicta 



We thank Leon County for information on roadside maintenance. We thank the “Winter Term Obies,” Joshua Greenfield, Samuel Slowinski, Madeline Logowitz, and Laura Russo, for their help with the Thomasville Road survey. This research was carried out with partial support from NSF grant IBN-0212085 and USDA-NRI-CREES grant 2003-35302-13565.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joshua R. King
    • 1
    Email author
  • Walter R. Tschinkel
    • 1
  • Kenneth G. Ross
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological ScienceFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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