Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Land-cover and climate factors contribute to the prevalence of the ectoparasitic fungus Laboulbenia formicarum in its invasive ant host Lasius neglectus.

Abstract

Understanding the distribution of parasites is crucial for biodiversity conservation. Here, we studied the distribution of the ectoparasitic fungus Laboulbenia formicarum in native and invasive Lasius ants in a 2000 km2 area. We screened over 16,000 ant workers in 478 colonies of five different species. We found that Lab. formicarum was rare in native Lasius species but infected 58% of the colonies of the invasive species Las. neglectus. At landscape scale, Lab. formicarum presence could not be explained by geographic and genetic distances between Las. neglectus colonies but was associated with hotter and dryer climatic conditions and its prevalence in colonies increased with urbanization. Within infected colonies, fungal prevalence varied from 0 to 100 percent within meters and was negatively correlated with impervious ground cover. In a changing world, our findings emphasize the importance of land-use and climatic factors in shaping the distribution and prevalence of fungal parasites .