Four mutually incompatible Argentine ant supercolonies in Japan: inferring invasion history of introduced Argentine ants from their social structure
In recent years, highly invasive ant species successively invaded warm regions of Asia. In Japan, the Argentine ant, Linepithema humile, has become established in several coastal regions. This species forms unusual social organizations called supercolonies consisting of numerous mutually non-aggressive nests. We studied the behavioral relationships, similarity of cuticular hydrocarbon profiles (nestmate recognition cue), and genetic relationships among the introduced Argentine ant populations of Japan. The Japanese populations were divided into four behaviorally, chemically, and genetically distinct supercolonies, which may have derived from independent source populations. The result represents the recent trend of increasing invasions of invasive ants to Asia. The discontinuous distribution of one supercolony throughout most of the Japanese range suggests rapid expansion of the supercolony via human-mediated jump dispersal. Meanwhile, localization of the other three supercolonies in Kobe Port provides the first evidence for multiple invasions of distinct supercolonies into a base for international trade.
KeywordsAsia Biological invasion Invasion history Japan Linepithema humile Supercolony
We would like to express our sincere thanks to Yukio Ishikawa and Toshiharu Akino for their enormous help in the chemical analyses, Fuminori Ito for providing an early draft of Okaue et al. (2007), Sugihiko Hoshizaki and Ryo Nakano for thoughtful advice, Hironori Sakamoto and Shun Suzuki for encouragement, and two anonymous referees for valuable comments on the manuscript.
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