Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Recent human history governs global ant invasion dynamics

Formally Refereed
Authors: Cleo Bertelsmeier, Sébastien Ollier, Andrew Liebhold, Laurent Keller
Year: 2017
Type: Scientific Journal
Station: Northern Research Station
Source: Nature Ecology & Evolution


Human trade and travel are breaking down biogeographic barriers, resulting in shifts in the geographical distribution of organisms, yet it remains largely unknown whether different alien species generally follow similar spatiotemporal colonization patterns and how such patterns are driven by trends in global trade. Here, we analyse the global distribution of 241 alien ant species and show that these species comprise four distinct groups that inherently differ in their worldwide distribution from that of native species. The global spread of these four distinct species groups has been greatly, but differentially, influenced by major events in recent human history, in particular historical waves of globalization (approximately 1850–1914 and 1960 to present), world wars and global recessions. Species in these four groups also differ in six important morphological and lifehistory traits and their degree of invasiveness. Combining spatiotemporal distribution data with life-history trait information provides valuable insight into the processes driving biological invasions and facilitates identification of species most likely to become invasive in the future.


Bertelsmeier, Cleo; Ollier, S bastien; Liebhold, Andrew; Keller, Laurent. 2017. Recent human history governs global ant invasion dynamics. Nature Ecology & Evolution. 1(7): 0184-. 8 p.