Loss of Intraspecific Aggression in the Success of a Widespread Invasive Social Insect

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Science  30 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5390, pp. 949-952
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5390.949

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Despite the innumerable ecological problems and large economic costs associated with biological invasions, the proximate causes of invasion success are often poorly understood. Here, evidence is provided that reduced intraspecific aggression and the concomitant abandonment of territorial behavior unique to introduced populations of the Argentine ant contribute to the elevated population densities directly responsible for its widespread success as an invader. In the laboratory, nonaggressive pairs of colonies experienced lower mortality and greater foraging activity relative to aggressive pairs. These differences translated into higher rates of resource retrieval, greater brood production, and larger worker populations.

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