restricted access Patterns of Nestedness in Remote Polynesian Ant Faunas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)
Abstract

The entire ant faunas of remote Polynesian islands consist of introduced species. An important question concerning the assembly of Pacific island ant faunas is whether these species are a random assortment of the available species pool, or whether they exhibit highly ordered occurrence patterns (i.e., nested subsets of species). I evaluated nestedness for the ant faunas of two island groups in remote Polynesia: (1) the Hawaiian Islands, and (2) French Polynesia and the Cook Islands. Wilcoxon two-sample tests were used to analyze nestedness patterns for individual species and islands; the degree of nestedness for species assemblages and archipelagos was determined by combining tail probabilities of individual species and islands. Both island groups revealed highly significant nestedness at the level of the assemblage (a per-species approach) as well as the archipelago (a per-island approach). Considered individually, most species (73–95%) and most islands (89–100%) demonstrated significant nestedness. Instances of nonsignificant nestedness were frequently associated with low statistical power. These results reveal a strong deterministic element in the assemblage of remote Polynesian ant faunas. Dispersal opportunities along with presence of appropriate habitat type are likely the most important mechanisms underlying the observed patterns.


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