The red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren, is an invasive pest from South America that currently occupies much of the south-eastern USA. Global warming is likely to allow range expansion of many invasive species, including S. invicta. We used a dynamic, ecophysiological model of fire ant colony growth coupled with models simulating climate change to predict the potential range expansion of S. invicta in the eastern USA over the next century. The climate change scenario predicted by the Vegetation-Ecosystem Modelling and Analysis Project (VEMAP) was used in our analyses. Our predictions indicate that the habitable area for S. invicta may increase by c. 5% over the next 40-50 years (a northward expansion of 33 ± 35 km). As the pace of global warming is expected to quicken in the latter half of the century, however, the habitable area for S. invicta in 2100 is predicted to be > 21% greater than it currently is (a northward expansion of 133 ± 68 km). Because the black imported fire ant, Solenopsis richteri Forel, occupies higher latitudes than S. invicta, the overall area of the eastern USA infested with invasive Solenopsis species could be greater than that estimated here.



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© 2005 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. This article has since been made an open access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Biological invasions, Climate change, Formicidae, Global warming, Solenopsis invicta, VEMAP

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Diversity and Distributions