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I’m not like everybody else: urbanization factors shaping spatial distribution of native and invasive ants are species-specific


Urbanization is a major global change inducing complex and multiple modifications of landscapes and ecosystems. The spatial distributions of organisms experiencing these modifications will likely shift specifically, depending on each species’ response to each environmental modification induced by urbanization. We sampled two ant genera (Lasius and Tetramorium) at 1248 locations along an urbanization gradient in Lyon, France and used high resolution spatial layers for 18 spatial (e.g., open habitat fragmentation, bioclimatic data and surface temperatures) and temporal (e.g., comparison of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index between 1986 and 2015) environmental variables associated with urbanization. Coupling two different analytical methods (Outlying Mean Index and Boosted Regression Trees), we showed that each species’ distribution was influenced by its own combination of environmental factors. Two morphologically cryptic Tetramorium species (T. sp.E and T. sp.U2) were both highly abundant but with opposite responses to urbanization: while T. sp.E was favored by urbanized habitat, T. sp.U2 avoided urbanized areas. Among Lasius species, we detected 63 occurrences of the invasive ant Lasius neglectus, the distribution of which was favored only by embankments along roads. We found that, even at this reduced spatial scale, climatic effects influenced most species and interacted with urbanization factors.

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The study was funded by the Conseil Départemental de l’Isère. This work was supported by the LABEX IMU (ANR-10-LABX-0088) of Université de Lyon, within the program “Investissements d’Avenir” (ANR-11-IDEX-0007) operated by the French National Research Agency (ANR). The authors wish to thank the many students and interns who participated in the extensive sampling and identification of ants over the years. Additional thanks to Aurélie Granjon for the first molecular identifications, to Jérôme Prunier, David Eme and Julien Grangier for constructive criticism of the first manuscript drafts. Finally, the authors wish to thank Charles Nilson and an anonymous reviewer who provided useful advices for improving the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jérôme M. W. Gippet.

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Gippet, J.M.W., Mondy, N., Diallo-Dudek, J. et al. I’m not like everybody else: urbanization factors shaping spatial distribution of native and invasive ants are species-specific. Urban Ecosyst 20, 157–169 (2017).

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  • Urbanization
  • Global change
  • Species distribution
  • Biological invasions
  • Formicidae
  • Lasius neglectus