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 Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells
22.08.2017 | National University Health System

nachricht Biochemical 'fingerprints' reveal diabetes progression
22.08.2017 | Umea University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may fight infectious disease

22.08.2017 | Health and Medicine

Meter-sized single-crystal graphene growth becomes possible

22.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

Repairing damaged hearts with self-healing heart cells

22.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>