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Florida Keys Ants

Corrie S. Moreau and Lloyd R. Davis

The ant fauna of the Florida Keys comprises 8 subfamilies, 34 genera, and over 90 species.

The Florida Keys are an archipelago of 1700 islands spanning ~356 square kilometers (~137 square miles). Much of the native ant diversity is likely due to the close proximity of the islands to mainland Florida, USA and past connections by land bridges. In addition the relatively close proximity of the Florida Keys to many of the Caribbean Islands (the tip of Key West is only 140km from Cuba) and active hurricane zone could facilitate the transport of winged ants (sexuals) and in some cases whole colonies from these islands to the Florida Keys. The subtropical environment of the Keys may also foster the establishment of exotic species.

The Florida Keys has a diverse community of ant species, which also includes a substantial number of human-introduced exotic ant species. The over 25 exotic species found on the islands are thought to be influencing the density and diversity of the native ant fauna, although many of the exotics are associated with human-disturbed environments. Two previous historical surveys of the ants of the Florida Keys (Wilson, 1964; Deyrup et al., 1988) have provided the foundation for our knowledge of the ant community with survey work continuing (Moreau et al., unpublished).

Corrie S. Moreau and Lloyd R. Davis
Florida Keys Ant Curator