Assessing the distribution of the Argentine ant using physiological data
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To address the lack of physiological approaches in current models assessing the potential distribution of the Argentine ant, we used data on brood development from distinct sources to evaluate a series of degreeday models for Catalonia (NE Iberian Peninsula), and data on the brood survival and oviposition rates to develop a worker production model. The degree-day model generated using data from Newell and Barber (1913) and Benois (1973) indicated that the number of degree-days required for the complete development from egg to adult worker was 445.4 degree-days above a threshold of 15.9°C, while the model calibratedusing data from Abril et al. (2008, in press) suggested 599.5 degree-days above 18.4°C. Comparisons between the degree-day model predictions and the currently known distribution of the Argentine ant suggested that the one generated using data from Newell and Barber (1913) and Benois (1973) overestimated the presence of the species, while the one calibrated using data from Abril et al. (2008; in press) underestimated it. On the other hand, the predicted daily net production of Argentine ant workers generated by the worker production model predicted more accurately the distribution of the Argentine ant than the degree-day models. Our results show the utility of incorporating physiological data in models to assess the distribution limits of the Argentine ant, which up to date have taken little account of the physiological needs of the species in terms of its establishment and dispersion in its introduced ranges.