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Propagule pressure and colony social organization are associated with the successful invasion and rapid range expansion of fire ants in China

Authors

  • CHIN-CHENG YANG,

    1. Master Program for Plant Medicine, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road, Taipei 10617, Taiwan
    2. Department of Entomology, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road, Taipei 10617, Taiwan
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  • MARINA S. ASCUNCE,

    1. USDA, ARS, Center for Medical, Agricultural & Veterinary Entomology, 1600/1700 SW 23rd Drive, Gainesville, FL 32608, USA
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    • Current address: Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Museum Rd & Newell Dr, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.

  • LI-ZHI LUO,

    1. Institute of Plant Protection, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, No. 2 West Yuanmingyuan Road, Beijing 100094, China
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  • JING-GUO SHAO,

    1. Institute of Plant Protection, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, No. 2 West Yuanmingyuan Road, Beijing 100094, China
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  • CHENG-JEN SHIH,

    1. Department of Entomology, National Taiwan University, No. 1, Sec. 4, Roosevelt Road, Taipei 10617, Taiwan
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    • These authors contributed equally.

  • DEWAYNE SHOEMAKER

    1. USDA, ARS, Center for Medical, Agricultural & Veterinary Entomology, 1600/1700 SW 23rd Drive, Gainesville, FL 32608, USA
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    • These authors contributed equally.


DeWayne Shoemaker, Fax: (352) 374 5818; E-mail: dewayne.shoemaker@ars.usda.gov

Abstract

We characterized patterns of genetic variation in populations of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta in China using mitochondrial DNA sequences and nuclear microsatellite loci to test predictions as to how propagule pressure and subsequent dispersal following establishment jointly shape the invasion success of this ant in this recently invaded area. Fire ants in Wuchuan (Guangdong Province) are genetically differentiated from those found in other large infested areas of China. The immediate source of ants in Wuchuan appears to be somewhere near Texas, which ranks first among the southern USA infested states in the exportation of goods to China. Most colonies from spatially distant, outlying areas in China are genetically similar to one another and appear to share a common source (Wuchuan, Guangdong Province), suggesting that long-distance jump dispersal has been a prevalent means of recent spread of fire ants in China. Furthermore, most colonies at outlier sites are of the polygyne social form (featuring multiple egg-laying queens per nest), reinforcing the important role of this social form in the successful invasion of new areas and subsequent range expansion following invasion. Several analyses consistently revealed characteristic signatures of genetic bottlenecks for S. invicta populations in China. The results of this study highlight the invasive potential of this pest ant, suggest that the magnitude of international trade may serve as a predictor of propagule pressure and indicate that rates and patterns of subsequent range expansion are partly determined by the interplay between species traits and the trade and transportation networks.

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