ESA Pacific Branch Annual Meeting Online Program

Niche Partitioning of Velvet Ant (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae) Communities in sand dune habitats at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Nye County, Nevada

Monday, March 26, 2012: 3:54 PM
Salon A (Marriott Downtown Waterfront )
Nicole F. Boehme , Biology Department, Utah State University, Logan, UT
James P. Pitts , Biology Department, Utah State University, Logan, UT
Life history traits for most velvet ant species are unknown including their seasonal activity and habitat preferences.  Here we examine the seasonal activity for 32 male velvet ant species, and the habitat preferences for all 42 velvet ant species known to occur at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Nye County, Nevada.  Velvet ants were collected from December 2008 through December 2009, monthly using pitfall traps, and bi-monthly using light traps, malaise traps, and by net collecting. Collections were made at 10 sites across the refuge with habitats classified as either sand dune or non-sand dune. Habitat preference was determined for each species using the Mann-Whitney U test (P≤0.05), and seasonal activity was established by the presence or absence of species in bi-monthly collections. Variation in flight times between species were minor and did not reveal unique patterns of niche partitioning. Niche partitioning does appear to occur at the spatial level as three species, Dasymutilla arenivaga, Odontophotopsis melicausa and Sphaeropthalma orestes, were found to be more abundant in sand dune habitats than in non-sand dune habitats.
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