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Invasion impacts on biodiversity: responses of ant communities to infestation by cat’s claw creeper, Macfadyena unguis-cati (Bignoniaceae) in subtropical Australia

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Osunkoya, O. O., Polo, C. and Andersen, A.N. (2011) Invasion impacts on biodiversity: responses of ant communities to infestation by cat’s claw creeper, Macfadyena unguis-cati (Bignoniaceae) in subtropical Australia. Biological Invasions, 13 (10). pp. 2289-2302.

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Article Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10530-011-0040-9


Ants are the dominant soil faunal group in many if not most terrestrial ecosystems, and play a key role in soil structure and function. This study documents the impacts of invasion by the exotic cat’s claw creeper vine, Macfadyena unguis-cati (L.) Gentry (Bignoniaceae) on surface-situated (epigaeic) and subterranean (hypogaeic) ant communities in subtropical SE Queensland Australia where it is a major environmental weed of riparian areas, rainforest communities and remnant natural vegetation, smothering standing vegetation and causing canopy collapse. Soil ants were sampled in infested and uninfested areas at eight sites spanning both riparian and non-riparian habitats in subtropical SE Queensland. Patterns of ant species composition and functional grouping in response to patch invasion status, landscape type and habitat stratum were investigated using ANOVA and non-metric multidimensional scaling ordination. The epigaeic and subterranean strata supported markedly different ant assemblages, and ant communities also differed between riparian and non-riparian habitats. However, M. unguis-cati invasion had a surprisingly limited impact. There was a tendency for ant abundance and species richness to be lower in infested patches, and overall species composition was different between infested and uninfested patches, but these differences were relatively small, and did not occur consistently across sites. There were changes in functional group composition that conformed to known functional group responses to environmental change, but these were similarly limited and inconsistent across sites. Our study has shown that ant communities are surprisingly resilient to invasion by M. unguis-cati, and serves as a warning against making assumptions about invasion impacts based on visual appearances.

Item Type:Article
Business groups:Biosecurity Queensland
Additional Information:© Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Keywords:Biological invasion; ant community composition; Macfadyena unguis-cati; subterranean ants; weed impact; woody vines.
Subjects:Science > Invasive Species > Plants > Impact assessment
Science > Invasive Species > Plants > Weed ecology
Science > Entomology
Live Archive:15 Nov 2011 23:07
Last Modified:24 Feb 2023 01:05

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