Pre-adaptive shift of a native predator (Araneae, Zodariidae) to an abundant invasive ant species (Hymenoptera, Formicidae)

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Invasive species often displace native species and can affect ecological processes in invaded habitats. If invasive species become abundant, changes in prey availability may be particularly harmful to specialist predators. The Argentine ant, Linepithema humile Mayr, is an important invasive species on nearly all continents. Spiders of the genus Zodarion are specialised ant-eating predators native to the Mediterranean yet it is unknown if they can exploit invasive ant species. Here we studied spatial and temporal abundance of this invasive ant and the native spider, Zodarion cesari Pekár, during 4 years in four citrus groves. Circadian activity of both spiders and ants, and capture efficiency and prey specificity of the predator were also evaluated. The abundance of Z. cesari was strongly correlated to L. humile abundance. The predatory activity of spiders varied seasonally with differences on the relative frequency of spiders capturing ants depending on the time of the year. In laboratory, Z. cesari displayed most efficient capture upon the native ant Tapinoma nigerrimum (Nylander) and the invasive ant L. humile in comparison with five other native ant species. These results demonstrate that the native spider Z. cesari is successfully exploiting the invasive ant species L. humile and is likely a locally monophagous predator. We suggest that Z. cesari shifted away from native T. nigerrimum post invasion as both ant species are phylogenetically related and of similar size.

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We thank Aureli Marco and Martí Llavador for the management of the citrus orchards, and Helga Montón, Pilar Vanaclocha and David Tortosa (IVIA) for technical assistance. Kiko Gómez for his help on the taxonomic identification of the ant species and Dr. Alejandro Tena (IVIA) for comments about this work.

Author information

Correspondence to Alberto Urbaneja.

Additional information

César Monzó and María Juan-Blasco contributed equally to the work in this paper and so are considered joint first authors.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Video S1. Video footage showing Zodarion cesari attacking an Argentine ant, Linepithema humile in the field (Quicktime format). (MPG 850 kb)

Video S2. Video footage showing Zodarion cesari attacking an Argentine ant, Linepithema humile in the laboratory (Quicktime format). (MPG 1544 kb)

Video S1. Video footage showing Zodarion cesari attacking an Argentine ant, Linepithema humile in the field (Quicktime format). (MPG 850 kb)

Video S2. Video footage showing Zodarion cesari attacking an Argentine ant, Linepithema humile in the laboratory (Quicktime format). (MPG 1544 kb)

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Monzó, C., Juan-Blasco, M., Pekár, S. et al. Pre-adaptive shift of a native predator (Araneae, Zodariidae) to an abundant invasive ant species (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). Biol Invasions 15, 89–100 (2013) doi:10.1007/s10530-012-0270-5

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  • Linepithema humile
  • Specialist predator
  • Zodarion
  • Prey specialisation
  • Community ecology