Impact of the red imported fire ant Solenopsis invicta Buren on biodiversity in South China: a review.
The red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, is a problematic invasive species in China since at least 2003. Over the past 15 years, a numerous studies were published on the impacts of this species on flora, fauna, and ecosystem function in natural and agricultural systems. We reviewed the literature on S. invicta invasion biology and impacts on biodiversity in South China. Both monogyne and polygyne colonies of S. invicta were introduced to China and polygyne colony is the dominant type. The range expansion rate of S. invicta may reach 26.5-48.1 km yr-1 in China. S. invicta forage activities occur year-round, peaking in the summer and fall in South China and show a preference for insects and plant seeds. We describe the ecological impacts of S. invicta on various habitats in South China, including arthropod community structure disruption and decreases in diversity and abundance of native ant species. S. invicta can replace the role of native ants in mutualisms between ants and honeydew-producing Hemiptera, which results in loss of important food resources for native ants and natural enemies of hemipterans. Further research is required to assess the complex ecosystem-level impacts of S. invicta in introduced areas.