Tropical fire ant (TFA), Solenopsis geminata (Fabricius, 1804), is considered as one of the most serious threats to the terrestrial fauna of Galápagos, yet little is known about its distribution and impact in the archipelago. We reviewed literature, studied museum specimens and sampled over 62 sites on ten islands and islets in order to update the distribution of TFA. Since the 1980's, species occurrences for TFA have increased from three to 115 localities, and the species is now recorded on seven islands and 11 islets. Sixty-six new records were registered since the last review in 2008, including the islets Bayas, Champion, Cuevas, and Eden. TFA seems to be present in a wide range of habitats with a clear predominance in human-disturbed zones. Our data, compiled with previous studies, suggest that TFA can behaviorally dominate other ants. TFA was collected on 28 nesting sites of endangered and/or endemic vertebrate species, where it constitutes a potential or proven threat. This study identifies potential invasion sites as well as endemic species that may further be impacted by this highly invasive ant. It also recommends regular monitoring to prevent further invasion.
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Vol. 90 • No. 4