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Monday, June 3 • 2:30pm - 2:55pm
The Good, the Bad, and the Crazy: Determining the Calcium Limitation, Sodium stress, and Decline of Tawny Crazy ants along the Coast of Texas

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Human activities are rearranging the distribution of elements and species across the globe, but the consequences of these alterations remain unknown. Coastal ecosystems are likely at risk to an increase in intensity and frequency of large tropical storms, which can deposit large amounts of calcium and sodium. Little is known, though, how additions of these micronutrients can affect the success of consumers, especially litter arthropods. To determine how changes in biogeochemistry affects arthropods, we utilized a factorial, fertilization experiment that manipulated macro- (N&P) and micronutrients (Ca, K, and Na; 16 treatments x 8 replicates = 128 plots), in 2016 and 2017, in large 30m x 30m plots in a coastal tallgrass prairie near Houston, TX. We collected litter arthropods using pitfall traps in 2017, and one-year post-fertilization in 2018. Based on results from 2017, we conducted feeding trials, that manipulated the ratio of Ca:Na (by 10%, 25%, and 40%) in food, on an invasive ant, Nylanderia fulva in 2018. In 2017, N. fulva was the dominant litter arthropod across all treatments, and their abundance was limited by Ca, but tends to be suppressed by Na. In 2018, however, these effects disappeared, and abundance of N. fulva dropped 98%, likely due to Hurricane Harvey. Preliminary lab results indicate that Na can reach toxic levels, suppressing colony size, while Ca ameliorates these toxic effects. These results indicate that changes in micronutrient availability may facilitate the success of an invasive species and gives insight as to how human activities are altering coastal ecosystems. 


Ryan Reihart

University of Dayton Ohio

Monday June 3, 2019 2:30pm - 2:55pm CDT
Room 1218