|MACGOWN, JOE - Mississippi State University|
|WETTERER, JAMES - Wilkes Honors College|
Submitted to: Terrestrial Arthropod Reviews
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/11/2012
Publication Date: 6/11/2012
Citation: Macgown, J.A., Wetterer, J.K. 2012. Distributional records of Strumigenys margaritae (Hymenoptera: formicidae: dacetini). Terrestrial Arthropod Reviews. 5:213-222.
Interpretive Summary: With increased global commerce, the introduction of alien species of plants and animals to the US has notably increased. These alien species are native to many areas around the world, but especially tropical and Asian regions. Some of these species are able to thrive in the US and even spread throughout various parts of the country. A certain percentage of these alien species have become serious invasive pest species. As global warming continues, tropical species are able to increase their geographic range farther north. Although numerous species of alien ants have been documented in the US, but the extent of the distributions of many of these species has not been studied, nor has their impact on the environment or other ant species. This is especially true with the minute pygmy snapping ants in the genus Strumigenys. Here we studied and mapped records of Strumigenys margaritae. This species has become so widely distributed that essentially it now has a continuous distribution from South American through Central America into the southeastern US and Caribbean region. Similar to other alien species, this one appeared to be uncommon, but years later become much more widespread. Documenting the first reports of alien species and their subsequent spread, providing identification tools, and giving biological and habitat information for these species is a first step in understanding their potential impacts.
Technical Abstract: Strumigenys margaritae Forel, 1893 (Tribe Dacetini) is a tiny predatory ant. Native to the New World, S. margaritae is known from northern South America, Central America, Mexico, the West Indies, and the southeastern US from Texas to Florida. To evaluate the geographic range of S. margaritae, we compiled and mapped specimen records from >200 sites. We found S. margaritae records for 37 geographic areas (countries, island groups, major islands, and US states), including several locales for which we found no previously published records: Anguilla, Barbados, Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dutch Caribbean, Grenada, Honduras, Nevis, Nicaragua, St Kitts, St Lucia, St Martin, Tobago, and US Virgin Islands. It appears that S. margaritae, though rare in many parts of the range, may have an essentially continuous continental distribution from Suriname to the southeastern US. If true, this opens up the possibility that S. margaritae, long considered exotic to the southeastern US, is actually native to this region.