Biological Invasions

, Volume 17, Issue 8, pp 2491–2503 | Cite as

Different behavioural strategies among seven highly invasive ant species

  • Cleo Bertelsmeier
  • Amaury Avril
  • Olivier Blight
  • Amandine Confais
  • Lise Diez
  • Hervé Jourdan
  • Jérôme Orivel
  • Noémie Saint Germès
  • Franck Courchamp
Original Paper


Ants figure prominently among the worst invasive species because of their enormous ecological and economic impacts. However, it remains to be investigated which species would be behaviourally dominant when confronted with another invasive ant species, should two species be introduced in the same area. In the future, many regions might have suitable environmental conditions for several invasive ant species, as predicted under climate change scenarios. Here, we explored interactions among several highly invasive ant species, which have been shown to have overlapping suitable areas. The aim of this study was to evaluate the performance in interference competition of seven of the world’s worst invasive ant species (Anoplolepis gracilipes, Paratrechina longicornis, Myrmica rubra, Linepithema humile, Lasius neglectus, Wasmannia auropunctata and Pheidole megacephala). We conducted pairwise confrontations, testing the behaviour of each species against each of the six other species (in total 21 dyadic confrontations). We used single worker confrontations and group interactions of 10 versus 10 individuals to establish a dominance hierarchy among these invasive ant species. We discovered two different behavioural strategies among these invasive ants: three species displayed evasive or indifferent behaviour when individuals or groups were confronted (A. gracilipes, Pa. longicornis, M. rubra), while the four remaining species were highly aggressive during encounters and formed a linear dominance hierarchy. These findings contrast with the widespread view that invasive ants form a homogeneous group of species displaying the ‘invasive syndrome’, which includes generally aggressive behaviour. The dominance hierarchy among the four aggressive species may be used to predict the outcome of future competitive interactions under some circumstances. Yet, the existence of several behavioural strategies renders such a prediction less straightforward.


Invasive ants Dominance hierarchy Dominance trade-offs Dyadic confrontations Interference competition Invasive syndrome 



We would like to thank Phil Lester and two anonymous referees for their comments und suggestions on the manuscript, Jessica Purcell for language editing, Gloria Luque, Camille Leclerc, Cyrian Courchamp for their help in the lab, Sébastien Ollier for help with the statistical analyses. This paper was supported by Région Ile-de-France (03-2010/GV-DIM ASTREA), Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR, 2009 PEXT 010 01) and BiodivERsa Eranet grants. L.D. is funded by the FRIA (Fonds pour la Recherche dans l’Industrie et dans l’Agriculture) and a Newton International Fellowship. This work has also benefited from an Investissement d’Avenir grant managed by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (CEBA, ANR-10-LABX-25-01).

Supplementary material

10530_2015_892_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (82 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 81 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cleo Bertelsmeier
    • 1
  • Amaury Avril
    • 1
  • Olivier Blight
    • 2
  • Amandine Confais
    • 1
  • Lise Diez
    • 3
  • Hervé Jourdan
    • 4
  • Jérôme Orivel
    • 5
  • Noémie Saint Germès
    • 1
  • Franck Courchamp
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire Ecologie, Systématique & Evolution (ESE), UMR CNRS 8079Univ. Paris SudOrsayFrance
  2. 2.Estación Biológica de DoñanaConsejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasSevilleSpain
  3. 3.Unité d’Ecologie SocialeUniv. Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium
  4. 4.UMR CNRS - IRD - UAPV, Centre IRD Nouméa, Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d’Écologie marine et continentale (IMBE)Aix-Marseille UniversitéNouméa CedexNew Caledonia
  5. 5.CNRS, UMR Ecologie des forêts de Guyane, AgroParisTech, CIRAD, INRAUniv. De Guyane, Univ. Des AntillesKourou CedexFrance

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