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Ecology. 2009 Oct;90(10):2664-9.

Invasive ants alter the phylogenetic structure of ant communities.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 569 Dabney Hall, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee 37996, USA.


Invasive species displace native species and potentially alter the structure and function of ecological communities. In this study, we compared the generic composition of intact and invaded ant communities from 12 published studies and found that invasive ant species alter the phylogenetic structure of native ant communities. Intact ant communities were phylogenetically evenly dispersed, suggesting that competition structures communities. However, in the presence of an invasive ant species, these same communities were phylogenetically clustered. Phylogenetic clustering in invaded communities suggests that invasive species may act as strong environmental filters and prune the phylogenetic tree of native species in a nonrandom manner, such that only a few closely related taxa can persist in the face of a biological invasion. Taxa that were displaced by invasive ant species were evenly dispersed in the phylogeny, suggesting that diversity losses from invasive ant species are not clustered in particular lineages. Collectively, these results suggest that there is strong phylogenetic structuring in intact native ant communities, but the spread of invasive species disassembles those communities above and beyond the effect of simple reductions in diversity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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