Local coexistence of native and invasive ant species is associated with micro-spatial shifts in foraging activity.
Invasive species often displace native species by outcompeting them. Yet, some native species can persist even in heavily invaded areas. The mechanisms mediating this local coexistence are still unclear. Fine-scale microclimatic heterogeneity could promote the local coexistence of native and invasive animal competitors. We tested if native ant species could coexist with a recent ant invader, Tapinoma magnum, by shifting their foraging activity in time or space to different microclimatic conditions. We compared the foraging activity of native epigeic ant species among invaded and uninvaded sites. We collected ants at baits in green spaces on the north, east, south and west sides of buildings in the morning, at noon and in the afternoon to test if native species foraged under different microclimatic conditions in invaded sites. Invaded sites had lower ant species richness, diversity, and relative abundance. The native black garden ant Lasius niger - one of the most widespread Palearctic ant species - persisted at high densities in invaded areas but foraged less on the east side of buildings and more on the west side. Microclimatic heterogeneity might promote native and invasive species coexistence by allowing some native species to shift their foraging behaviour to locally avoid or outcompete invasive competitors. Better understanding how fine-scale micro-environmental heterogeneity affects native species' persistence in invaded areas could help to predict and locally mitigate the negative impacts of biological invasions.