0687 Fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) and native ants, Part 1: Experimental evidence that fire ants are disturbance specialists

Tuesday, November 18, 2008: 8:05 AM
Room A8, First Floor (Reno-Sparks Convention Center)
Walter R. Tschinkel , Department of Biological Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Joshua R. King , Biological Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
In the absence of ecological disturbance, Florida's piney flatwoods are devoid of the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, but are colonized by them after ecological disturbance. In an experiment on fire ants and native ants, we treated experimental plots in the flatwoods to mowing, plowing or undisturbed. To each of these disturbance types, we either transplanted mature fire ant colonies, or soil without colonies, or nothing. This set of 9 treatments was replicated 5 times at different sites. Fire ants self-founded at high rates in the plowed plots, but not the others. Mature colonies transplanted into undisturbed habitat had high rates of survival over the 3 year experiment. The survival of transplanted mature colonies in undisturbed habitat in which they do not occur naturally, combined with self-founding in disturbed plots suggests that the secret to fire ant distribution lies in its colony-founding biology, and that founding biology is central to the assembly of ant communities.

doi: 10.1603/ICE.2016.35646

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