Rapid increase of the parasitic fungus Laboulbenia formicarum in supercolonies of the invasive garden ant Lasius neglectus

Simon Tragust, Heike Feldhaar, Xavier Espadaler, Jes Søe Pedersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

© 2015, Springer International Publishing Switzerland. A key feature among invasive ant species is their ability to dominate vast areas by forming dense networks of connected nests in contrast to the smaller and discrete, spatially dispersed colonies of most social insects. However, it was recently proposed that such supercolonies are more vulnerable to infection by parasites and diseases as they would serve as large targets with high rates of transmission from nests to nest. We studied the invasive garden ant Lasius neglectus, a pest species currently spreading throughout Europe. Several populations are infected with an ectoparasitic fungus, Laboulbenia formicarum, itself an introduced species, yielding a new host–parasite relationship. Long-term monitoring of the prevalence and intensity of infection in two populations (supercolonies) over 4–10 years revealed epizootic spread of the parasite with a 14 % annual increase in prevalence until ca. 80 % of all ants were infected. In contrast, no other local ant species with discrete colonies carried the parasite, although a local species (Lasius niger) proved susceptible in a cross-infection experiment. These results support the hypothesis that supercolonies potentially face an important challenge from parasites and diseases, with interesting perspectives for biological control of such ant species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2795-2801
JournalBiological Invasions
Volume17
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2015

Keywords

  • Epizootiology
  • Host–parasite interaction
  • Invasive species
  • Laboulbeniales
  • Social insects
  • Unicoloniality

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Rapid increase of the parasitic fungus Laboulbenia formicarum in supercolonies of the invasive garden ant Lasius neglectus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this