Modelling the potential geographic distribution of invasive ant species in New Zealand

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Ward, Darren F.
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Despite their economic and environmental impacts, there have been relatively few attempts to model the distribution of invasive ant species. In this study, the potential distribution of six invasive ant species in New Zealand are modelled using three fundamentally different methods (BIOCLIM, DOMAIN, MAXENT). Species records were obtained from museum collections in New Zealand. There was a significant relationship between the length of time an exotic species had been present in New Zealand and its geographic range. This is the first time such a time lag has been described for exotic ant species, and shows there is a considerable time lag in their spread. For example, it has taken many species several decades (40–60 years) to obtain a distribution of 17–25% of New Zealand regions. For all six species, BIOCLIM performed poorly compared to the other two modelling methods. BIOCLIM had lower AUC scores and higher omission error, suggesting BIOCLIM models under-predicted the potential distribution of each species. Omission error was significantly higher between models fitted with all 19 climate variables compared to those models with fewer climate variables for BIOCLIM, but not DOMAIN or MAXENT. Widespread species had a greater commission error. A number of regions in New Zealand are predicted to be climatically suitable for the six species modelled, particularly coastal and lowland areas of both the North and South Islands.


Ward, D. F. 2007. Modelling the potential geographic distribution of invasive ant species in New Zealand. Biological Invasions 9:723–735.