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TESS Seminar- What makes an ant invasive?: Eco-evolutionary dynamics of the invasive yellow crazy ant

When Oct 18, 2017
from 04:00 PM to 05:00 PM
Where D3.054 Cairns, 145.030 Townsville
Contact Name
Contact Phone 07 4232 1427
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Professor Heike Feldhaar
University of Bayreuth, GermanyHeike
feldhaar@uni-bayreuth.de

Abstract

Global biodiversity is currently threatened by invasive species. Among these species, ants are a particularly important group due to their dramatic impacts on ecosystems. They often spread rapidly and massively into new habitats and may become dominant species by being more efficient in foraging and highly aggressive. The most devastating invasive ant species are forming extensive networks of mult-queened colonies with multiple interacting nests. These supercolonies are characterized by a free exchange of workers and queens among nests and absence of intraspecific aggression. When spreading into a new environment invasive ants are confronted with different biotic and abiotic conditions that may exert strong selection pressures on individuals, which may result in rapid phenotypic changes due to plastic responses and/or genetic adaptations. To preserve ecosystems it is crucial to understand the mechanisms enabling such explosive species spreading – as well as the factors limiting such spread.
In the talk I will present an overview of our current knowledge of the invasion history, impact on native species, and population structure and dynamics of the yellow crazy ant, Anoplolepis gracilipes.

Biography

Professor Heike Feldhaar leads the Animal Ecology research group at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. Her work combines evolutionary and community ecology approaches to understand dynamics of arthropod communities. Some of the current projects in her lab include investigation of the evolutionary ecology of social insect symbionts, ecological immunity of insects, community ecology and population genetics of arthropods in tree hollows.

Centre for Tropical Environmental & Sustainability Sciences

Twitter (@TESSJCU)