A survey was conducted to determine the distribution of dominant ants and factors that may influence their dominance in New Zealand cities. A new method of active ant trapping combining aspects of pitfall trapping and attraction to food baits was used to capture a sample of all ant species that attended baits. Fifty eight percent of the ant species present in New Zealand were recovered from 2202 traps, with multiple species catches in 245 traps. There was a strong latitudinal relationship in the distribution of ant species, with the proportion of native to introduced species increasing in favour of the native species as latitude increased (south). The presence of Linepithema humile, the Argentine ant, a numerically dominant species was associated with a significant reduction in the number of other ant species captured. With increased urbanisation, providing refugia at times of cool temperatures for warm temperate-sub tropical introduced ant species, their range may extend into the higher latitudes, further displacing native ants from New Zealand cities.
KeywordsIntroduced species Latitudinal gradient Species co-occurrence Linepithema humile Paratrechina Monomorium
We would like to acknowledge the contribution from all staff (Plant and Food Research- formerly HortResearch and AsureQuality- formerly AgriQuality) who assisted in the 2001 survey. This work was funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and New Zealand's Foundation for Research, Science and Technology through contract CO2X0501, the Better Border Biosecurity (B3) programme (www.b3nz.org). Phil Lester (Victoria University of Wellington, NZ) and two anonymous referees provided helpful comments on this manuscript.
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