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A comparative study between Solenopsis invicta and Solenopsis richteri on tolerance to heat and desiccation stresses
- Jian Chen, Tahir Rashid, Guolei Feng
- PLoS ONE 2014 v.9 no.6 pp. e96842
- Solenopsis invicta, Solenopsis richteri, body water, colonizing ability, heat, heat stress, heat tolerance, insect cuticle, invasive species, lipids, water content, water stress
- Solenopsis invicta and Solenopsis richteri are two very closely related invasive ant species; however, S. invicta is a much more successful invader. Physiological tolerance to abiotic stress has been hypothesized to be important to the success of an invasive species. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that S. invicta is more tolerant to heat and desiccation stress than S. richteri. The data strongly support our hypothesis. S. invicta was found to be significantly less vulnerable than S. richteri to both heat and desiccation stress. Despite S. richteri having significantly higher body water content, S. invicta was less sensitive to desiccation stress due to its significantly lower water loss rate (higher desiccation resistance). After the cuticular lipid was removed, S. invicta still had a significantly lower water loss rate than S. richteri, indicating that cuticular lipids were not the only factors accounting for difference in the desiccation resistance between these two species. Since multiple biological and/or ecological traits can contribute to the invasion success of a particular species, whether the observed difference in tolerance to heat and desiccation stresses is indeed associated with the variation in invasion success between these two species can only be confirmed by further extensive comparative study.