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Abstract

Invasive species pose a persistent danger to the endemic marine fauna found in the Hawaiian archipelago, threatening the ecological and economic values associated with these fragile ecosystems. This study focuses on the impact invasive ant species have on the population dynamics of ghost crabs (Ocypode spp.) along the northern coast of Oahu. Through in situ sampling techniques, ant density as well as crab location and size were determined at a total of 22 transects. Through statistical analysis, it was found that there is a significant difference in the size distribution of the ghost crab population between the sand and the vegetation. Additionally, there was found to be a negative relationship between the proportion of the crab population that lived in the vegetation when compared to ant density. Overall, this study shows the critical impacts that invasive ants may be having on the coastal environments of Oahu, altering spatial distribution patterns and potentially disrupting the natural size dispersal of the organisms living within the highly zoned intertidal region. Understanding the impacts of invasive species on coastal regions is critical to the establishment of effective management techniques that can preserve the diversity and natural functioning of intertidal regions on a global scale.

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