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Title: Population decline but increased distribution of an invasive ant genotype on a Pacific atoll
Contributor(s): Gruber, M A M (author); Burne, A R (author); Abbott, Kirsti (author); Pierce, R J (author); Lester, P J (author)
Publication Date: 2013
DOI: 10.1007/s10530-012-0312-z
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Abstract: Populations of invasive species are often studied when their effects are perceived as a problem. Yet observing the dynamics of populations over longer time periods can highlight changes in effects on invaded communities, and assist with management decisions. In this study we revisit an invasion of the yellow crazy ant ('Anoplolepis gracilipes') in the Tokelau archipelago to determine if the distribution and abundance of the ant has changed ~7 years after surveys completed in 2004. We were particularly interested in whether populations of a previously identified invasive haplotype (D) had increased in distribution and abundance, as this haplotype was implicated in negative effects on resident ant communities. Indeed, haplotype D populations have become more widespread since the initial survey, more likely owing to new introductions or movement by humans, rather than intrinsic characteristics of the haplotype. We also found that despite no significant change in the abundance of 'A. gracilipes' overall, haplotype D populations have declined in abundance. Residents of the Tokelau atolls no longer consider the ant to be a pest as they did 7 years ago, when populations of this ant interfered with their food production and many other aspects of daily life. We observed no significant differences between 'A. gracilipes' invaded and uninvaded communities, which suggests that the ant is at a level of abundance below which significant negative ecological effects may occur. Population declines of invasive species are not infrequent, and understanding these population dynamics, particularly the underlying mechanisms promoting population declines or stabilisation, should be a high priority for invasion ecology.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Biological Invasions, 15(3), p. 599-612
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
Place of Publication: The Netherlands
ISSN: 1387-3547
Field of Research (FOR): 050103 Invasive Species Ecology
060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology)
060809 Vertebrate Biology
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Environmental and Rural Science

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