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20 May 2020 Distribution of the Red Imported Fire Ant Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Central Florida Pastures
C. H. Steele, J. R. King, E. H. Boughton, D. Jenkins
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Habitat disturbance has been found to facilitate the introduction of a wide range of species, including the red imported fire ant Solenopsis invicta Buren (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Myrmicinae). Despite the link between S. invicta colonization and disturbance, little is known about how different intensities or types of disturbance might impact S. invicta populations. In this study, we used S. invicta populations in cattle pastures to understand how variation in disturbance type and frequency correlates with the density of S. invicta mounds. In total, 56 plots were surveyed for mound abundance during both the wet and dry seasons on a subtropical south Florida ranch. Explanatory variables were grouped into five categories based on disturbance type: 1) historic pasture conversion; 2) modern pasture management (mowing, dragging, chopping, or aerating); 3) grazing intensity (a measure vegetation height and dung pat abundance); 4) distance to human-made and natural localized disturbance (roads, ditches, and wetlands); and 5) abiotic conditions (soil temperature, soil moisture). Overall, the average number of mounds per plot was not significantly different between seasons, but was significantly higher in intensive pastures, which are converted to nonnative forage grasses than in seminative pastures during the dry season.Time since soil disturbance (aeration and chopping of pasture) was a significant predictor of S. invicta densities in both dry and wet seasons, with an increase in time since disturbance being associated with higher mound densities. Other forms of pasture management that did not disturb the soil, such as dragging and mowing, as well as distance to localized disturbances (wetlands, roads, and ditches) were not found to have a significant correlation in either season.

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C. H. Steele, J. R. King, E. H. Boughton, and D. Jenkins "Distribution of the Red Imported Fire Ant Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Central Florida Pastures," Environmental Entomology 49(4), 956-962, (20 May 2020).
Received: 4 November 2019; Accepted: 23 March 2020; Published: 20 May 2020

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invasive species
red imported fire ant
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