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Use of Chemical Characters in Defining Populations of Fire Ants, Solenopsis saevissima Complex, (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)

Robert K. Vander Meer and Clifford S. Lofgren
The Florida Entomologist
Vol. 71, No. 3 (Sep., 1988), pp. 323-332
DOI: 10.2307/3495440
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3495440
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Use of Chemical Characters in Defining Populations of Fire Ants, Solenopsis saevissima Complex, (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
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Abstract

The fire ants, Solenopsis invicta and S. richteri, were accidentally imported into the United States in the first half of this century from South America. In their adopted habitat the imported fire ants have thrived causing considerable medical and agricultural problems in the nine widely infested states of the south and southeast. The red imported fire ant, S. invicta was considered the dominant ant in the infested areas, having displaced the black imported fire ant, S. richteri, into a small enclave in north-eastern Mississippi. However, a large reproductively viable S. invicta/S. richteri hybrid population was recently discovered across northern Alabama and into Mississippi and Georia by chemical analysis. This paper reports on the use of three species-specific chemical characters (venom alkaloids, cuticular hydrocarbons, and trail pheromones) to define S. invicta, S. richteri, and hybrid populations in the United States. In addition, these characters have been applied to fire ant taxonomy in South America. We also discuss fire ant population dynamics in the United States and its implications on several models of hybridization. These results have important consequences regarding the species status of the two imported fire ants and the taxonomy of fire ant populations in South America. /// Las hormigas Solenopsis invicta y S. richteri fueron accidentalmente importadas de Sur America a los Estados Unidos en la primera parte de este siglo. En su medio adoptado las hormigas han prosperado causando considerables porblemas médicos y agrícolas en los nueve estados del sur y del sudeste. La hormiga roja importada S. invicta, fue considerada la hormiga dominante en las áreas infestadas, habiendo desplazado a la hormiga negra importada, S. richteri, hacia un pequeño enclave en el noreste de Mississippi. Sin embargo, se descubrió por medio de análisis químicos, una población híbrida reproductivamente viable de S. invicta/S. richteri en el norte de Alabama y dentro de Mississippi y Georgia. Este papel reporta sobre el uso de caracteres químicos que son específicos de ciertas especies (veneno, alcaloides, hidrocarbones cuticulares, y feromonas de rastro) para definir poblaciones de S. invicta, S. richteri, e híbridos en los Estados Unidos. Además, estos caracteres han sido splicados a la taxonomía de las hormigas en Sur America. Nosotros también discutimos el dinamismo de poblaciones de las hormigas en los Estados Unidos y sus implicaciones en varios modelos de hibridación. Estos resultados tienen consecuencias importantes en cuanto al estado de las especies de las dos hormigas y la taxonomía de la población en Sur America.

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