Identifier

etd-04142004-151850

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Renewable Natural Resources

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Since the accidental introduction of red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta Buren, RIFA) into Mobile, Alabama in the 1930’s, the invasion of this species into other areas across the southeast has increased drastically. RIFA have been implicated in the disruption of ecosystems and decreases in biodiversity. Most research on effects of RIFA on vertebrates and invertebrates have focused on small spatial scales and single species. I examined established populations of RIFA in relation to native ground-dwelling arthropods and small mammal communities in longleaf-pine and pine-hardwood forests. I evaluated the efficacy of using Amdro® to control RIFA and determined the effect of RIFA predation on arthropod and small mammal communities. RIFA suppression occurred in April, August, and October 2003. In the longleaf-pine forest, RIFA suppression was effective in June between years (P = 0.088) and treatments (P = 0.093). This was consistent with an increase in cotton mice abundance on treated (17.7 ± 2.7) versus control (6.0 ± 2.5) plots (P = 0.035), with 90% of cotton mice captured during the June sampling period. Across seasons, significant differences were observed for Collembola in August between years (P = 0.001) and in December between treatments (P = 0.01). Likewise, abundance of Coleoptera was greater in December between years (P = 0.023) and in May between treatments (P = 0.002). In the pine-hardwood forest, RIFA suppression was effective in April and June (P = 0.001, P = 0.004, respectively) when compared across seasons. No significant differences were observed for any small mammal species captured in the pine-hardwood site. Acari were greater on treated (11.0 ± 1.7) than control (4.7 ± 1.9) plots (P = 0.067); however, no significant differences were observed for any invertebrate group across seasons. Although this study is in the initial phase of a 5-year project, the data suggests that RIFA may potentially affect the abundance of selected faunal species in forested ecosystems.

Date

2004

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Michael J. Chamberlain

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