Myrmica rubra is an invasive ant species currently on the rise as a pest in the Northeast, particularly New England. We have studied two populations of this ant, one on Mount Desert Island, Maine and one in Buffalo, New York. Study of the Mount Desert Island population has revealed a pattern of loss of intraspecific aggression, suggesting an approach toward supercolonialism (unicolonialism). Using standard behavioral assays we have characterized three Mount Desert Island populations with reduced intraspecific aggression. We have then used microsatellite genetic techniques to characterize the relatedness of these populations. In Buffalo, control efforts have yielded a situation similar to early invasive stages. Using GPS technology in combination with behavioral and genetic assays we are correlating nest density and proximity to native ant species with aggression and relatedness in an effort to better understand how supercolonialism arises. We hope that a better understanding of the mechanisms behind supercolonialism will help elucidate the biology of invasion.
Species 1: Hymenoptera Formicidae Myrmica rubra (European Red Ant)
Keywords: Invasive species
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