ID guide | introduced ants

Technical Report HCSU-061. Ants of the National Park of American Samoa

Publication Type:Government Report
Year of Publication:2015
Authors:R. W. Peck, Banko P. C.
Publisher:Hawai'i Cooperative Studies Unit, University of Hawai'i at Hilo

American Samoa makes up the eastern end of the Samoan Archipelago. On the islands of Tutuila, Taʽū and Ofu, the National Park of American Samoa (NPSA) protects about 4,000 ha of coastal, mid-slope and ridge-top forest. While the ant fauna of the Samoan Archipelago is considered relatively well documented, much of NPSA has never been surveyed for ants, leaving the fauna and its distribution poorly known. To address this shortfall, we systematically surveyed ants within the Tutuila and Taʽū units of NPSA using standard methods (hand collecting, litter sifting, and baits) at 39 sites within six vegetation types ranging from 8 to 945 m elevation. Forty-four ant species were identified, 19 of which are exotic to the Samoan Archipelago. Two notoriously aggressive species, Anoplolepis gracilipes and Pheidole megacephala were detected at two and seven sites, respectively. Both of these species largely excluded all other ants from bait, although their impact on ant community composition is unclear. A suite of habitat variables measured at each site was assessed to explain park-wide ant distributions. Of eight variables evaluated, only elevation was associated with ant community structure, as the ratio of native to exotic ant species increased significantly with elevation on Tutuila. Our survey documented two species not previously reported from American Samoa. Strumigenys eggersi, detected at 12 sites, appears to be a new immigrant to the Pacific Basin. A species of Pheidole was collected that likely represents an undescribed species. Solenopsis geminata, an aggressive species first reported on Tutuila in 2002, was not detected during our survey.

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