Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Give a visiting ant a nice place to stay and it might stick around

16.11.2005


Nesting preferences important to accidentally imported ants



Many insects enter the United States accidentally, as hitchhikers on various plants imported in commerce, but how many really stay?

Conventional thinking says the answer is in the numbers of both insects and times they enter, but new findings to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggest that opportunity alone is no guarantee of a successful invasion.


Of 232 species of ants that entered U.S. ports uninvited from 1927 to 1985, 28 species (12 percent) now occur as established non-native species, scientists from three universities report. Their paper appears this week online in the PNAS Early Edition. An important factor in the ants’ success, they say, was nesting preferences.

"There are a huge number of species being moved around that don’t become established, so opportunity alone isn’t sufficient," said Andrew V. Suarez, a professor in the entomology and animal biology departments at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "This makes sense, because many of these species have specific biological characteristics that prevent them from becoming established in a new environment."

Ants that stuck around were either ground-nesting species or arboreal species that did not depend solely on specific types of trees common to their native lands, Suarez said. "This kind of information is important, because it’s going to help us identify the characteristics that may promote the success of non-native organisms. Eventually, we can use this information to keep the new wave of invaders from becoming established."

Suarez primarily studies Argentine ants, an aggressive species that has caused problems in Southern California since arriving in 1905 and successfully establishing large colonies that overwhelm native food webs.

His work led him to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, where he found a gold mine of untapped ant history. In numerous containers were mostly unidentified ants that the U.S. Department of Agriculture had captured at quarantine sites around the country. Each container was labeled with a port of departure and a port of entry. The ants had been collected from plants or plant material, mostly tropical in origin, before any of the ants had a chance to establish themselves.

Suarez, then a postdoctoral student, and colleague Phillip S. Ward, a professor at the University of California at Davis, spent years identifying 232 different species from 58 genera and 12 subfamilies from the 394 records stored at the museum. Suarez and Ward then teamed with David A. Holway, a professor of biology at the University of California at San Diego, to analyze their discoveries.

Of the 232 species identified, the researchers were able to determine definitive data on nest-site preferences of 156 species. Using multiple-logistic regression, the scientists tested the influence of how many times in the records particular species were imported, nesting behavior and their interaction on the success or failure of successful establishment.

Slightly more than half of 156 species they identified were tree-nesting ants, and, only 14 percent of these arboreal ants (four species) became established in the U.S., probably because they weren’t dependent on specific kinds of trees, Suarez said.

"As a group of introduced species, invasive ants are clearly important," Holway said. "Five species of ants, for example, are included in the top 100 worst invasive organisms by the IUCN (The World Conservation Union)."

This National Science Foundation-funded study provides a rare look at data on "failed introductions for an important group of unintentionally introduced insects," he said. "To date, few studies on introduced insects, other than those intentionally introduced for biological control, have addressed the issue of failed introductions."

The three researchers also noted the vital role that museums play in advancing scientific inquiry, and they urged a new quarantine program to curate intercepted material.

Jim Barlow | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uiuc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled
24.04.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

nachricht Scientists generate an atlas of the human genome using stem cells
24.04.2018 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum Technology for Advanced Imaging – QUILT

24.04.2018 | Information Technology

AWI researchers measure a record concentration of microplastic in arctic sea ice

24.04.2018 | Earth Sciences

Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled

24.04.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>