Direct evidence of native ant displacement by the Argentine ant in island ecosystems

  • Ida Naughton
  • Christina Boser
  • Neil D. Tsutsui
  • David A. HolwayEmail author
Original Paper


Ecological impacts associated with ant introductions have received considerable attention, but most studies that report on these impacts contrast species assemblages between invaded and uninvaded sites. Given the low inferential power of this type of space-for-time comparison, alternative approaches are needed to evaluate claims that ant invasions drive native species loss. Here, we use long-term data sets from two different Argentine ant eradication programs on the California Channel Islands to examine how the richness and composition of native ant assemblages change before and after invasion (but prior to the initiation of treatments). At four different sites on two different islands, pre-invasion native ant assemblages closely resembled those at uninvaded (control) sites in terms of species richness, species composition, and the presence of multiple indicator species. Invader arrival coincided with large (> 75%) and rapid (within 1 year) declines in species richness, shifts in species composition, and the loss of indicator species. These impacts will hopefully be reversed by the recolonization of formerly invaded areas by native ant species following Argentine ant treatment, and long-term studies of native ant recovery at these sites are ongoing. Unchecked spread of the Argentine ant on other islands in this archipelago, however, poses a grave threat to native ants, which include a number of endemic taxa.


Displacement Long-term data Linepithema humile Recovery Resistance Island 



Funding for this research was provided by The Nature Conservancy (DAH), US Navy (DAH), California Coastal Conservancy (DAH), National Science Foundation Long-term Research in Environmental Biology 1654525 (DAH and NDT) and US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hatch project CA-B-INS-0087-H (NDT). We acknowledge The Nature Conservancy, Channel Islands National Park, US Navy, and University of California Natural Reserve System for granting access to field sites. The following people provided invaluable help and logistical support: M Booker, A Chisholm, D Dewey, K Faulkner, C Gagorik, C Hanna, A Hebshi, W Hoyer, L Laughrin, K Merrill, J Randall, and V Vartanian. M Booker, W Hoyer, EG Le Brun, AV Suarez, and three anonymous reviewers offered helpful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ida Naughton
    • 1
  • Christina Boser
    • 2
  • Neil D. Tsutsui
    • 3
  • David A. Holway
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Biological SciencesUniversity of California at San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.The Nature ConservancyVenturaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and ManagementUniversity of California at BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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