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Nonindigenous Ants Associated with Geothermal and Human Disturbance in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

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Title:Nonindigenous Ants Associated with Geothermal and Human Disturbance in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
Authors:Wetterer, James K.
Date Issued:Jan 1998
Publisher:University of Hawaii Press
Citation:Wetterer JK. 1998. Nonindigenous ants associated with geothermal and human disturbance in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Pac Sci 52(1): 40-50.
Abstract:Although the Hawaiian Islands lack indigenous ants, more than
40 exotic species have become established there, primarily in lowland areas,
where they have been implicated in the extermination of much of the endemic
Hawaiian fauna. In June to August 1994, I surveyed ants in the K.I1auea
Caldera region (elevation 1090-1240 m) of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
to evaluate the current range and potential impact of ants in this protected
montane ecosystem. Ants were common in areas disturbed by geothermal or
human activity, but rare in undisturbed forest. A total of 15 ant species was
collected, including 10 "lowland" ant species that are generally restricted to
elevations below 900 m in Hawai'i. Pheidole megacephala and Anoplolepis
longipes, major pest species in lowland Hawai'i, occurred in very high densities
in and around the geothermal area near the park headquarters. Paratrechina
bourbonica and Cardiocondyla venustula, two cold-tolerant species, were the
most common ants in a second geothermal area, the Puhimau hot spot, and in
areas disturbed by human activity, including roadsides. Linepithema humile, a
major pest species in drier highland areas, occurred only in and around park
buildings. The geothermal areas and park buildings appear to serve as warm
"habitat islands" that allow Ph. megacephala, A. longipes, and other lowland
ants to extend their ranges to higher elevations. Colonization of geothermal
areas by lowland ant species, such as Ph. megacephala and A. longipes, poses a
threat to endemic Hawaiian species in those areas. Colonization of roadsides
and other disturbed areas by more cold-tolerant ants, such as P. bourbonica,
C. venustula, and L. humile, poses a more general threat to endemic Hawaiian
species found at higher elevations.
Appears in Collections: Pacific Science Volume 52, Number 1, 1998

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