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Fitzgerald K, Gordon DM. 2012. Effects of vegetation cover, presence of native ant species, and human disturbance on colonization by Argentine ants. Conservation Biology 26: 525-538.
Year Published: 2012

The spread of non-native invasive species is affected by human activity, vegetation cover, weather, and interaction with native species. We analyzed data from a 17-year study of the distribution of the non-native Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) and the native winter ant (Prenolepis imparis) in a preserve in northern California (U.S.A.). We conducted logistic regressions and used model selection to determine whether the following variables were associated with changes in the distribution of each species: presence of conspecifics at neighboring sites, distance to development (e.g., roads, buildings, and landscaped areas), proportion of vegetation cover taller than 0.75 m, elevation, distance to water, presence of both species at a site, temperature, and rainfall. Argentine ants colonized unoccupied sites from neighboring sites, but the probability of appearance and persistence decreased as distance to development, vegetation cover, and elevation increased. Winter ants appeared and persisted in sites with relatively high vegetation cover (i.e., highly shaded sites). Presence of the 2 species was negatively associated in sites with high vegetation cover (more winter ants) and sites near development (more Argentine ants). Probability of colonization of Argentine ants decreased where winter ants were most persistent. At sites near development within the preserve, abundant Argentine ant populations may be excluding winter ants. The high abundance of Argentine ants at these sites may be due to immigration from suburban areas outside the preserve, which are high-quality habitat for Argentine ants. In the interior of the preserve, distance from development, low-quality habitat, and interaction with winter ants may in combination exclude Argentine ants. Interactions among the variables we examined were associated with low probabilities of Argentine ant colonization in the preserve.