Is the assembly of ant communities mediated by parasitoids?


  • Donald H. Feener, Jr.

D. H. Feener, Jr., Dept of Biology, Univ. of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA (


Studies of species interactions in ant communities have been a major source of evidence for the importance of interspecific competition in natural communities. One consequence of the overwhelming evidence for competition in ant communities is that the role of such “top-down” processes as predation and parasitism has been ignored. Recent evidence, however, suggests that the composition and dynamics of ant communities are influenced by highly specialized parasitoids that mediate the outcome of competition among ant species. Here I review this evidence and develop a general framework for integrating the roles of competition and parasitism in the assembly of ant communities. I then use invasions by the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis wagneri) and the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) to show how this new framework can be used to develop testable hypotheses regarding the ecological success (or failure) of invasive ant species.