Research Highlights | Published:

Ecology: The alien within

Nature volume 456, page 679 (11 December 2008) | Download Citation

South American fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) have been shown to invade Florida's extensive pine flatwoods only where human activities such as mowing or ploughing create a disturbance.

Joshua King and Walter Tschinkel of Florida State University in Tallahassee set up several types of plot: undisturbed, mowed and ploughed, and added fire ants to some of each plot type. Fire ants can't displace native ants on their own; instead, disturbance makes this possible by reducing native ant populations and creating habitats in which fire ants do particularly well.

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