Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit


Date of this Version



Published in Biological Conservation 108 (2002) 27–33


We examined the influence of both the proximity and extent of human developments and paved roads on the presence of the predatory, non-indigenous, red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta). This species was inadvertently introduced into the United States at the port of Mobile, Alabama, around 1930 and rapidly spread to many southeastern states, including Florida. More recently, S. invicta colonized the Florida Keys, an area with a high proportion of rare and endemic vertebrate and invertebrate species. We placed bait transects in transitional salt-marsh, pineland, and hardwood hammocks on 13 of the lower Florida Keys and compared habitat type, the shortest distance of the bait transect to a development or road, and area of development and roads 50, 70, 100, and 150 m around each bait transect for areas with and without red imported fire ants. Red imported fire ants were detected on 21 of the 80 transects and were equally abundant in all habitat types. While all of the development and road variables differed significantly between bait transects with and without red imported fire ants, transects that were closest to roads and that had the largest amount of development within a 150 m radii had the highest probability of presence of red imported fire ants. Recovery efforts for endangered species in areas invaded by red imported fire ants should include analyses of the cumulative impacts of roads and developments in areas near protected lands.