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The European fire ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) as an invasive species: impact on local ant species and other epigaeic arthropods

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 December 2014

Ken Naumann*
Department of Biology, Langara College, 100W. 49 Ave., Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V5Y 2Z6
Rob J. Higgins
Department of Biological Sciences, Thompson Rivers University, 900 McGill Road, Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada V2C 0C8
1Corresponding author (e-mail:


Pitfall trapping revealed that the European fire ant, Myrmica rubra (Linnaeus) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), represents an unusual example of a temperate invasive ant species. In British Columbia, Canada, M. rubra populations are associated with a decreased incidence and abundance of other ant species in three different plant communities when compared with M. rubra-free control areas. M. rubra represented more than 99.99% of the total ant fauna caught in the infested areas, and the numbers of M. rubra captured in the plant communities ranged from over 10 times to over 1300 times the total number of all ants collected in corresponding M. rubra-free areas. Total numbers of some taxa of insects and non-insect arthropods, including those likely to be competitors or prey of M. rubra, were reduced where the invasive species was present. Biodiversity indexes for the overall suite of captured arthropod species were lower where M. rubra was present in all three plant communities but most of this decrease can be attributed to the difference in the ant fauna.


La capture de fourmis à l’aide de piège-fosses a révélé que les fourmis rouges, Myrmica rubra (Linnaeus) (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), représentent un exemple inhabituel d’espèce invasive en zone tempérée. En Colombie-Britannique, Canada, elles sont associées à un déclin en incidence et en abondance d’autres espèces de fourmis dans trois phytocénoses differentes comparativement aux aires de contrôle sans fourmis M. rubra. Myrmica rubra représentait plus de 99.99% de la totalité des fourmis attrapées dans les régions infestées, et le nombre de M. rubra attrapées dans les phytocénoses variait entre plus de 10 fois et plus de 1300 fois le nombre total de toutes les fourmis attrapées dans les aires de contrôle sans M. rubra. Les nombre totaux de certains taxons d’insectes et autres arthropodes, incluant des compétiteurs ou proies probables de M. rubra, étaient réduits dans les endroits où l’espèce invasive était présente. Les indices de biodiversité pour la collection complète des espèces d’arthropodes capturés étaient plus bas dans les endroits où M. rubra était présente dans les trois phytocénoses; cependant, la majorité de ce déclin peut être attribué à la diversité de la faune de fourmis.

Behaviour & Ecology
© Entomological Society of Canada 2014 

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Subject editor: Keith Summerville


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