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Biological Invasions

, Volume 12, Issue 11, pp 3785–3793 | Cite as

A native ant armed to limit the spread of the Argentine ant

  • Olivier Blight
  • Erick Provost
  • Marielle Renucci
  • Alain Tirard
  • Jérôme Orgeas
Original Paper

Abstract

Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) usually actively displace native ants through a combination of rapid recruitment, high numerical dominance and intense aggressive fights. However, in some cases, native ants can offer a strong resistance. In Corsica, a French Mediterranean island, local resistance by the dominant Tapinoma nigerrimum has been proposed as a factor limiting Argentine ant invasion. With the aim of evaluating the abilities of T. nigerrimum in interference and exploitative competition, this study tested in the laboratory the aggressive interactions between this native dominant ant and the invasive Argentine ant. We used four different assays between L. humile and T. nigerrimum: (1) worker dyadic interactions, (2) symmetrical group interactions, (3) intruder introductions into an established resident colony, and (4) a competition for space and food. This study confirms the ability of Argentine ants to compete with native species, by initiating more fights, using cooperation and simultaneously deploying physical and chemical defenses. However, despite Argentine ant fighting capabilities, T. nigerrimum was more efficient in both interference and exploitative competition. Its superiority was obvious in the space and food competition assays, where T. nigerrimum dominated food in 100% of the replicates after 1 h and invaded Argentine ant nests while the reverse was never observed. The death feigning behavior exhibited by Argentine ant workers also suggests the native ant’s superiority. Our study thus demonstrates that T. nigerrimum can offer strong competition and so may be able to limit the spread of Argentine ants in Corsica. This confirms that interspecific competition from ecologically dominant native species can affect the invasion success of invaders, notably by decreasing the likelihood of incipient colony establishment and survival.

Keywords

L. humile T. nigerrimum Competition Bioassays Propagule Invasion process 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Comments made by two anonymous reviewers have greatly improved this manuscript. This work was supported by a grant from the “Office de l’Environnement de la Corse and the “Direction Régionale de l’Environnement”. We thank Franck Torre for statistical advice.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olivier Blight
    • 1
  • Erick Provost
    • 1
  • Marielle Renucci
    • 1
  • Alain Tirard
    • 1
  • Jérôme Orgeas
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut Méditerranéen d’Ecologie et de Paléoécologie (UMR CNRS/IRD)Université Paul CézanneAix-en-Provence cedex 4France

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