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Invasive Fire Ants Limit Attwater’s Prairie Chicken Survival

Cara J

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Small but dangerous to insectivores, invasive red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) could be negatively impacting the brood survival of critically endangered Attwater’s prairie chickens (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri), according to a recent study. The study, published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, showed how ants have been reducing insect populations in Texas since they arrived there in the late 1960s and early 1970s — insects that the prairie chickens consume for survival. “If fire ants indeed are impacting insects, it’s very likely they are affecting other insectivore species as well,” said lead author of the study Mike Morrow, a wildlife biologist at the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge and a member of The Wildlife Society. When Morrow and his team found that the birds’ brood survival was poor and limiting their progress to recovery, they reviewed the literature that indicated fire ants had a substantial impact on insect abundance in habitats in Texas. In fact, previous research also showed a correlation between fire ants and bobwhite population trends, Morrow said. With partners from Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, the Nature Conservancy of Texas, Texas A&M University Department of Entomology and a number of others, Morrow and his team [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/invasive-fire-ants-limit-attwaters-prairie-chicken-survival/

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