Ants in the Grassland. Ann B. Mayo University of Texas–Arlington America’s Grassland Conference Manhattan, KS. their importance and potential as indicators of ecosystem health. Why study ants?. They bit and sting. They may be pest and invasive species. We do not invite them on picnics.
Ann B. Mayo
University of Texas–Arlington
America’s Grassland Conference
their importance and potential as indicators of ecosystem health
Ants are quite fascinating
on an Oreo
Internal nest of the Florida harvester ant
Nest mound of the Western harvester ant
will vary (and therefore, indicate)
Tree trimming and mowing in an electrical power line right of way
Natural experiment: sites were paired
Details of a Comanche harvester ant nest
Aledo clay loam
Solenopsis (2 fire ants)
Solenopsis (2 thief ants)
Formica (pallidefulva group - 1)
the Comanche harvester ant
harassed by Forelius
the Comanche harvester ant foraging on seeds
and Wildlife Refuge
Yes, this is one reason for studying ants – they are thermophilic in general and some species are found only in arid grasslands and deserts. As climate changes, the ant species present are expected to change in their occurrence, distribution and range. In the past, ants present in packrat middens have been used to asses or confirm climate conditions.
Dr. Walter Tschinkel has especially developed techniques for making casts in wax, plaster, and aluminum. The chosen material is poured into a nest, allowed to harden, and then excavated. Visit his site at Florida State University for more information. He has several papers on nest casts and architecture.
The prairies that were burned were controlled, low intensity burns meant to control scrubby woody growth and reduce litter. Intensity of a burn has to do with how hot and how long. These burns did not significantly effect the soil. For ants, this means that only the microclimate above ground was affected which can be a significant deterrent to ant activity and presence. I did not detect such an effect in this study.