The little fire ant Wasmannia auropunctata: A new invasive species in the Middle East and its impact on the local arthropod fauna

Merav Vonshak, Tamar Dayan, Armin Ionescu-Hirsh, Amnon Freidberg, Abraham Hefetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The little fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata, probably arrived in Israel in ca. 1998 and was identified in 2005; this is the first record of this species from open areas outside the tropics and subtropics. It survives harsher conditions than in its native habitats, with minimal annual temperatures as low as 6°C, and 5-12 consecutive rainless months (under 15 mm rainfall per month). It is now known from 26 localities in Israel, mostly in irrigated gardens. As in other regions where they have invaded, these ants pose a serious threat to local biodiversity. At high densities they displaced almost all the local ant species sampled, affecting population abundances, species richness, and community structure. W. auropunctata seems to have a detrimental effect also on other ground arthropods, judging from the observed decline in spider and beetle abundances. We show here that this tropical species can pose a critical threat to local arthropods at a wider range of climatic conditions than was previously known.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1825-1837
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Invasions
Volume12
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

Keywords

  • Ants
  • Invasive ants
  • Invasive species
  • Israel
  • Wasmannia auropunctata

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