Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 117–128 | Cite as

Worldwide ant invasions under climate change

  • Cleo BertelsmeierEmail author
  • Gloria M. Luque
  • Benjamin D. Hoffmann
  • Franck Courchamp
Original Paper


Many ants are among the most globally significant invasive species. They have caused the local decline and extinction of a variety of taxa ranging from plants to mammals. They disturb ecosystem processes, decrease agricultural production, damage infrastructure and can be a health hazard for humans. Overall, economic costs caused by invasive ants amount to several billion US $ annually. There is general consensus that the future distributions of invasive species are likely to expand with climate change, however this dogma remains poorly tested. Here we model suitable area globally for 15 of the worst invasive ant species, both currently and with predicted climate change (in 2080), globally, regionally and within the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots. Surprisingly, the potential distribution of only five species was predicted to increase (up to 35.8 %) with climate change, with most declining by up to 63.3 %. The ant invasion hotspots are predominantly in tropical and subtropical regions of South America, Africa, Asia and Oceanic islands, and particularly correspond with biodiversity hotspots. Contrary to general expectations, climate change and invasive ant species will not systematically act synergistically. However, ant invasions will likely remain as a major global problem, especially where invasion hotspots coincide with biodiversity hotspots.


Biological invasions Species distribution models Consensus model Climate change Invasive ants 



This paper was supported by the Région Ile-de-France (03-2010/GV-DIM ASTREA) and the ANR (2009 PEXT 010 01) grants.


  1. Araújo MB, New M (2007) Ensemble forecasting of species distributions. Trends Ecol Evol 22:42–47PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Araujo MB, Peterson AT (2012) Uses and misuses of bioclimatic envelope modelling. Ecology 93:1527–1539PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beaumont LJ, Gallagher RV, Thuiller W et al (2009) Different climatic envelopes among invasive populations may lead to underestimations of current and future biological invasions. Divers Distrib 15:409–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bellard C, Bertelsmeier C, Leadley P et al (2012) Impacts of climate change on the future of biodiversity. Ecol Lett 15:365–377CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bertelsmeier C, Luque GM, Courchamp F (2013a) Increase in quantity and quality of suitable areas for invasive species as climate changes. Conserv Biol 27:1458–1467PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bertelsmeier C, Luque GM, Courchamp F (2013b) Global warming may freeze the invasion of big-headed ants. Biol Invasions 15:1561–1572CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bolton B (2007) Taxonomy of the dolichoderine ant genus Technomyrmex Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) based on the worker caste. Contrib Am Entomol Inst 35:1–150Google Scholar
  8. Brook BW, Sodhi NS, Bradshaw CJA (2008) Synergies among extinction drivers under global change. Trends Ecol Evol 23:453–460PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Buisson L, Thuiller W, Casajus N et al (2010) Uncertainty in ensemble forecasting of species distribution. Glob Chang Biol 16:1145–1157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Butchart S, Walpole M, Collen B et al (2010) Global biodiversity: indicators of recent declines. Science 328(5982):1164–1168PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Clavero M, García-Berthou E (2005) Invasive species are a leading cause of animal extinctions. Trends Ecol Evol 20:110PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cristianini N, Schölkopf B (2002) Support vector machines and kernel methods, the new generation of learning machines. AI Mag 23:31–41Google Scholar
  13. De’ath G, Fabricius KE (2000) Classification and regression trees: a powerful yet simple technique for ecological data analysis. Ecology 81:3178–3192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dukes JS, Mooney HA (1999) Does global change increase the success of biological invaders? Trends Ecol Evol 14:135–139PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Elith J, Leathwick JR (2009) Species distribution models: ecological explanation and prediction across space and time. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 40:677–697CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Espadaler X, Bernal V (2009) Lasius neglectus–a polygynous, sometimes invasive, ant. Accessed 1 May 2011
  17. Essl F, Dullinger S, Rabitsch W et al (2011) Socioeconomic legacy yields an invasion debt. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108:203–207PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fielding AH, Bell JF (1997) A review of methods for the assessment of prediction errors in conservation presence/absence models. Environ Conserv 24:38–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Franklin J (2009) Mapping Species Distributions–Spatial Inference and Prediction. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  20. Franklin J, Davis FW, Ikegami M et al (2012) Modeling plant species distributions under future climates: how fine-scale do climate projections need to be? Glob Chang Biol 19:473–483PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gallagher RV, Beaumont LJ, Hughes L, Leishman MR (2010) Evidence for climatic niche and biome shifts between native and novel ranges in plant species introduced to Australia. J Ecol 98:790–799CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. GIEC (2007) Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report. An Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate ChangeGoogle Scholar
  23. Guisan A, Thuiller W (2005) Predicting species distribution: offering more than simple habitat models. Ecol Lett 8:993–1009CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Guo QH, Liu Y (2010) ModEco: an integrated software package for ecological niche modeling. Ecography (Cop) 33:637–642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gutrich JJ, VanGelder E, Loope L (2007) Potential economic impact of introduction and spread of the red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, in Hawaii. Environ Sci Policy 10:685–696CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Harris RJ, Rees J (2004) Ant Distribution Database. In: Accessed 01 April 2011
  27. Hayes KR, Barry SC (2008) Are there any consistent predictors of invasion success? Biol Invasions 10:483–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hellmann JJ, Byers JE, Bierwagen BG, Dukes JS (2008) Five potential consequences of climate change for invasive species. Conserv Biol 22:534–543PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hijmans RJ, Cruz M, Rojas E (2001) Computer tools for spatial analysis of plant genetic resources data: 1 DIVA-GIS. Genet Resour Newsl 127:15–19Google Scholar
  30. Hijmans RJ, Cameron SE, Parra JL et al (2005) Very high resolution interpolated climate surfaces for global land areas. Int J Climatol 25:1965–1978CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hoffmann BD, Abbott KL, Davis PD (2010) Invasive Ant Management. In: Lach L, Parr CL, Abbott KL (eds) Ant Ecology. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 287–304Google Scholar
  32. Holway D, Lach L, Suarez AV et al (2002) The causes and consequences of ant invasions. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 33:181–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (2012) Global Invasive Species Database. available from http// accessed 24 January 2012
  34. King JR, Tschinkel WR (2008) Experimental evidence that human impacts drive fire ant invasions and ecological change. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 105:20339–20343PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lach L, Hooper-Bui LM (2010) Consequences of Ant Invasions. In: Lach L, Parr CL, Abbott KL (eds) Ant Ecology. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 261–286Google Scholar
  36. Lowe S, Browne M, Boudjelas S, De Poorter M (2000) 100 of the world’s worst invasive alien species–a selection from the global invasive species database. 12Google Scholar
  37. Mikheyev AS, Mueller UG (2006) Invasive species: customs intercepts reveal what makes a good ant storaway. Curr Biol 16:R129–R131PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mittermeier RA, Turner WR, Larsen FW, et al. (2012) Biodiversity Hotspots Distribution and Protection of Conservation Priority Areas. 3–22Google Scholar
  39. Moreira DDO, De Morais V, Vieira-Da-Motta O et al (2005) Ants as carriers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospitals. Neotrop Entomol 34:999–1006CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Morrison LW, Korzukhin MD, Porter SD (2005) Predicted range expansion of the invasive fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, in the eastern United States based on the VEMAP global warming scenario. Divers Distrib 11:199–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Nenzén HK, Araújo MB (2011) Choice of threshold alters projections of species range shifts under climate change. Ecol Model 222:3346–3354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pearce J, Ferrier S (2000) Evaluating the predictive performance of habitat models developed using logistic regression. Ecol Model 133:225–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Phillips SJ, Anderson RP, Schapire RE (2006) Maximum entropy modeling of species geographic distributions. Ecol Model 190:231–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Root BA, Price JT, Hall K (2003) Fingerprints of global warming on wild animals and plants. Nature 421:47–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Roura-Pascual N, Suarez AV, Gomez C et al (2004) Geographical potential of Argentine ants (Linepithema humile Mayr) in the face of global climate change. Proc R Soc Lond Ser B Biol Sci 271:2527–2534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Roura-Pascual N, Hui C, Ikeda T, et al. (2011) Relative roles of climatic suitability and anthropgenic influence in determining the pattern of spread in a global invader. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 108:220–225PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Simberloff D, Martin J-L, Genovesi P et al (2013) Impacts of biological invasions - what’s what and the way forward. Trends Ecol Evol 28:58–66PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Suarez AV, Holway DA, Ward PS (2005) The role of opportunity in the unintentional introduction of nonnative ants. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 102:17032–17035PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Suarez AV, McGlynn TP, Tsuitsui ND (2010) Biogeographic and Taxonomic Patterns of Introduced Ants. In: Lach L, Parr CL, Abbott KL (eds) Ant Ecology. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 233–244Google Scholar
  50. Ward DF (2007) Modelling the potential geographic distribution of invasive ant species in New Zealand. Biol Invasions 9:723–735CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wetterer JK (2009) Worldwide spread of the destroyer ant, Monomorium destructor (Hymenoptera: formicidae). Myrmecol News 12:97–108Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cleo Bertelsmeier
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gloria M. Luque
    • 1
  • Benjamin D. Hoffmann
    • 2
  • Franck Courchamp
    • 1
  1. 1.Ecologie, Systématique and Evolution, UMR CNRS 8079Univ. Paris SudOrsay CedexFrance
  2. 2.Ecosystem SciencesCommonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research OrganisationWinnellieAustralia

Personalised recommendations