Differences in behavioural traits among native and introduced colonies of an invasive ant
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Identifying the factors that promote the success of biological invasions is a key pursuit in ecology. To date, the link between animal personality and invasiveness has rarely been studied. Here, we examined in the laboratory how Argentine ant populations from the species’ native and introduced ranges differed in a suite of behaviours related to species interactions and the use of space. We found correlations among specific behavioural traits that defined an explorative-aggressive syndrome. The Main “European” supercolony (introduced range) more readily explored novel environments, displayed more aggression, detected food resources more quickly, and occupied more space than the Catalonian supercolony (introduced range) and two other Argentine supercolonies (native range). The two native supercolonies also differed in their personalities; one harbouring the less invasive personality, while the other is intermediate between the two introduced supercolonies. Therefore, instead of a binary pattern, Argentine ant supercolonies display a behavioural continuum that is independent on their geographic origin (native/introduced ranges). Our results also suggest that variability in personality traits is correlated to differences in the ecological success of Argentine ant colonies. Differences in group personalities may facilitate the persistence and invasion of animals under novel selective pressures by promoting adaptive behaviours. We stress that the concept of animal personality should be taken into account when elucidating the mechanisms of invasiveness.
KeywordsAnimal personality Behavioural syndrome Supercolony Invasive ant
We thank Phil Lester and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the earlier version of the manuscript. This work was funded by the Fyssen Foundation (postdoctoral contract to OB), the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, and the European Regional Development Fund (project CGL2012-36181 to XC and RB). We thank Mrs Jessica Pearce for her English editing services.
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