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Harvard Forest REU Symposium Abstract 2019

  • Title: Distribution and nesting characteristics of the thief ant species, Solenopsis molesta at Harvard Forest.
  • Author: Brianna Martinez (Rutgers University)
  • Abstract:

    Ants play an essential role in countless ecosystems, from being crucial nutrient cyclers to aiding in seed dispersal. Many species are adapted to live in very diverse environments, so their impact can be seen worldwide. One of these cosmopolitan species is Solenopsis molesta, for which little is known about its ecology. This project aimed to lessen that information gap, through the study of S. molesta’s nesting habits. Ten plots were sampled in open field areas, one in a home, and searched through for S. molesta. When this species was found, the location and characteristics of its nests were observed for type of shelter, as well as the size of it. Solenopsis molesta was found a majority of time under moss and rocks of varying sizes. Solenopsis molesta nests were not found under moss or rocks less than 3.5 cm^2 or greater than 27 cm^2. There is a clear favorable shelter size in which S. molesta colonies choose to make their home. This factor, in addition to nesting in or near another species of ant from which to steal, are limiting components of nest selection. These environmental conditions limit the abundance and distribution of these species.

  • Research Category: Biodiversity Studies