Kyle R McCann

Kyle initially became involved in the Holway lab as an undergraduate researching foraging preferences of Argentine ants on different life stages of prey.

In pursuit of his master’s degree Kyle studied how the presence of Argentine ants affects a food-for-protection mutualism. The coast barrel produces extrafloral nectaries to attract ants. Ants in turn protect the carbohydrate source and provide defense from herbivores for the cacti. More than twenty different ant species have been found to tend coast barrel cactus, almost all of which disappear in the presence of argentine ant invasion. To understand how this invasion affects the coast barrel cactus-ant mutualism, we are comparing plants tended primarily by Argentine ants (L. humile) and those tended primarily by Crematogaster californica. Current research is examining how Argentine ant presence on coast barrel cactus alters plant reproductive output and may disrupt the visitation rate/success of potential pollinators.


LeVan, KE, KJ Hung, KR McCann, J Ludka and DA Holway. (2014) Floral visitation by the Argentine ant reduces pollinator visitation and seed set in the coast barrel cactus, Ferocactus viridescens. Oecologia.174: 163–171.