The Argentine ant (Linepithema humile, Mayr) is a highly invasive species that has successfully spread from its native range in South America across many zones of the globe. In Southern Europe, two continental supercolonies have been identified, the Catalonian supercolony and the main European supercolony spreading over 6,000 km. In Corsica, a French Mediterranean island, the Argentine ant has been present for 60 years. Here we compare patterns of intraspecific aggression and cuticular hydrocarbon profiles of Argentine ants in Corsica to three mainland European colonies. Chemical analyses reveal the existence of cuticular signature variations among the six study sites relative to a gradient of aggression. We find two distinct colony groups not belonging to the Catalonian supercolony, suggesting that the new population originates either (1) from an independent introduction event from the native range resulting in a third European supercolony, or (2), given the chemical proximity and the moderate level of aggression between the two groups, from an existing European population followed by a drift producing a division within the main European supercolony.
Corsica Linepithema humileSupercolonies Intraspecific aggression Chemical analyses
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We thank Crisanto Gomez and Silvia Abril for their field help. This manuscript has been significantly improved by the constructive comments of the editor and anonymous reviewers. This project is supported by the Office de l’Environnement de la Corse and the Direction Régional de l’Environnement Corse.
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