Homogenization of ant communities in mediterranean California: The effects of urbanization and invasion

David A. Holway, Andrew V. Suarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In coastal California, the invasive Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) displaces nearly all above ground foraging native ant species. The loss of native ants following invasion by Argentine ants homogenizes these faunas; natural habitats invaded by L. humile have lower beta diversity compared to comparable uninvaded areas. Argentine ant abundance in the seasonally dry mediterranean environments of this region correlates strongly and positively with soil moisture. For this reason, the displacement of native ants across natural and artificial moisture gradients often resembles an edge effect, the magnitude of which is inversely proportional to the suitability of the physical environment from the perspective of L. humile. The direct effects of Argentine ant invasions in natural environments are therefore amplified by inputs of urban and agricultural run off. Indirect ecological effects of these invasions arise from the loss of large-bodied ants, arid adapted ants, and behavioral repertoires unique to particular native ant species. Further research is needed to quantify how these aspects of functional homogenization affect invaded communities. The close association between L. humile and moist soils suggests that, at least in arid regions, control strategies might be aimed at reducing urban run off in order to maintain functionally diverse communities of native ants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-326
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Conservation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Argentine ants
  • Biological invasions
  • Biotic homogenization
  • Linepithema humile
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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