A case study of human exacerbation of the invasive species problem: transport and establishment of polygyne fire ants in Tallahassee, Florida, USA
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.
KeywordsHuman 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.
- Deyrup M, Davis L, Cover S (2000) Exotic ants in Florida. Trans Am Entomol Soc 126:293–326Google Scholar
- Glancey BM, Craig CH, Stringer CE, Bishop PM (1973) Multiple fertile queens in colonies of the imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. J Georgia Entomol Soc 8:237–238Google Scholar
- Lowe S, Browne M, Boudjelas S, De Poorter M (2004) 100 of the World’s worst invasive alien species: a selection from the global invasive species database. Invasive Species Specialist Group, GlandGoogle Scholar
- Macom TE, Porter SD (1996) Comparison of polygyne and monogyne red imported fire ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) population densities. Ann Entomol Soc Am 89:535–543Google Scholar
- Porter SD, Van Eimeren B, Gilbert LE (1988) Invasion of red imported fire ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): microgeography of competitive replacement. Ann Entomol Soc Am 81:913–918Google Scholar
- Tschinkel WR (2006) The fire ants. Belknap/Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Vargo EL, Porter SD (1989) Colony reproduction by budding in the polygyne form of Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Ann Entomol Soc Am 82:307–313Google Scholar