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Ecotoxicology

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 731–738 | Cite as

Effect of an invasive ant and its chemical control on a threatened endemic Seychelles millipede

  • James M. LawrenceEmail author
  • Michael J. Samways
  • Jock Henwood
  • Janine Kelly
Article

Abstract

The impact of invasive species on island faunas can be of major local consequence, while their control is an important part of island ecosystem restoration. Among these invasive species are ants, of which some have a disruptive impact on indigenous arthropod populations. Here, we study the impact of the invasive African big-headed ant, Pheidole megacephala, on a small Seychelles island, Cousine, and assess the impact of this ant, and its chemical control, using the commercially available hydramethylnon-based bait, Siege, on the endemic keystone Seychelles giant millipede species, Sechelleptus seychellarum. We found no significant correlations in landscape-scale spatial overlap and abundance between the ant and the millipede. Furthermore, the ant did not attack healthy millipedes, but fed only on dying and dead individuals. The chemical defences of the millipede protected it from ant predation. Ingestion of the bait at standard concentration had no obvious impact on the millipede. The most significant threat to the Seychelles giant millipede in terms of P. megacephala invasion is from possible catastrophic shifts in ecosystem function through ant hemipteran mutualisms which can lead to tree mortality, resulting in alteration of the millipede’s habitat.

Keywords

Millipede Invasive ant Pheidole megacephala Hydramethylnon Siege Cousine Island Seychelles 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We would like to thank M.F. Keeley of Cousine Island for the opportunity of making this study, Janine Henwood for making the stay on Cousine logistically possible, and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • James M. Lawrence
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael J. Samways
    • 1
  • Jock Henwood
    • 2
  • Janine Kelly
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology, Faculty of AgriSciencesStellenbosch UniversityMatielandSouth Africa
  2. 2.Cousine Island, Victoria, MahéSeychelles
  3. 3.Plant Protection InstituteAgricultural Research CouncilQueenswoodSouth Africa

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