Analysis of Recent Interception Records Reveals Frequent Transport of Arboreal Ants and Potential Predictors for Ant Invasion in Taiwan


We uncovered taxonomic diversity, country of origin and commodity type of intercepted ants at Taiwanese borders based on an 8 year database of 439 interception records. We found intercepted ants arrived predominantly via timber, a pattern likely reflecting the high domestic demand for foreign timber in Taiwan. The most frequently intercepted species were either arboreal or wood-dwelling ants, raising a concern of these ants constituting a next wave of ant invasion in Taiwan. Further analyses indicate that the taxonomic composition of intercepted ants does not match that of established non-native ant species, suggesting that interception data alone fails to provide adequate power to predict the establishment success of ants. Yet, interception frequency and selected life-history traits (i.e., flexible colony founding mode and general nesting habits) were shown to jointly serve as a practical predictor of the establishment risk of non-native ants. Consistent with other border interception databases, secondary introduction (i.e., species arriving from their introduced ranges instead of their native ranges) also represents a major pathway for transport of invasive ants into Taiwan, suggesting its role in shaping the global invasion of ants. Our findings offer baseline information for constructing a prediction framework for future ant invasions and assist in the decision-making process of quarantine authorities in Taiwan.