Determining composition and structure of ant communities may help understand how niche opportunities become available for invasive ant species and ultimately how communities are invaded. This study examined composition and structure of an ant community from a tropical rain forest in Fiji, specifically looking at spatial partitioning and presence of invasive ant species. A total of 27 species was collected, including five invasive species. Spatial partitioning between arboreal (foliage beating) and litter (quadrat) samples was evident with a relatively low species overlap and a different composition of ant genera. Composition and abundance of ants was also significantly different between litter and arboreal microhabitats at baits, but not at different bait types (oil, sugar, tuna). In terms of invasive ant species, there was no difference in number of invasive species between canopy and litter. However, the most common species, Paratrechina vaga, was significantly less abundant and less frequently collected in the canopy. In arboreal samples, invasive species were significantly smaller than endemic species, which may have provided an opportunity for invasive species to become established. However, taxonomic disharmony (missing elements in the fauna) could also play an important role in success of invasive ant species across the Pacific region. Invasive ants represent a serious threat to biodiversity in Fiji and on many other Pacific islands. A greater understanding of habitat susceptibility and mechanisms for invasion may help mitigate their impacts.
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Vol. 62 • No. 4