The spread of invasive species is determined not only by environmental factors but also by the behavior of the invading species. The invasive Argentine ant, L. humile, extends its range locally through the dispersal and establishment of propagules: groups of ants and queens. we examine whether the success of these propagules is determined by their composition. For example, rapidly finding a suitable nest site is affected by the proportion of exploratory individuals in a group  and aggression towards native species is determined by the proportion of aggressive individuals in a group  . Current work in the lab investigates the proximate mechanisms (development and gene expression ) that underlie the behavioral variation among individual ants in exploration.
1. Hui A & Pinter-Wollman N. 2014. Individual variation in exploratory behaviour improves speed and accuracy of collective nest selection by Argentine ants. Animal Behaviour. 93:261-6.
2. Newmann K. & Pinter-Wollman N. 2019. Collective response of Argentine ant groups to native species emerges from individual differences in aggressive behavior. Behavioral Ecology. arz017, https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arz017 (PDF)
3. Page H., Sweeney A., Pilko A. & Pinter-Wollman N. 2018. Underlying mechanisms and ecological context of variation in exploratory behavior of the Argentine ant, Linepithema humile. Journal of Experimental Biology 221, jeb188722 (PDF)
An Argentine ant tending aphids: