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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Biological Control of Pests Research Unit

Title: Influences of Imported Fire Ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Bioturbation on Soils and Turfgrass in a Sod Production Agroecosystem

item Defauw, Sherri
item Vogt, James
item Boykin, Deborah

Submitted to: Imported Fire Ants Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 10, 2007
Publication Date: November 1, 2007
Citation: Defauw, S. L., Vogt, J. T., Boykin, D. L. Influences of Imported Fire Ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) Bioturbation on Soils and Turfgrass in a Sod Production Agroecosystem. Imported Fire Ants Conference Proceedings. 2007.

Technical Abstract: Mound-building imported fire ants (IFA) actively modify the biogeochemical and physical properties of soil. Soil alterations result from worker ants’ nest construction and foraging activities as well as colony-wide food sharing and metabolic functions. However, their influence on nutrient levels in surrounding vegetation is poorly understood. Element enrichments as well as depletions were simultaneously documented for both ant-affected as well as undisturbed soils and warm-season turfgrass in a sod production agroecosystem. Collection of soils and turfgrass was timed to coincide with peak IFA biomass. Total C, total N, C/N ratios, organic matter (OM), and Zn2+ concentrations as well as pH of mound soils were significantly higher than control soils. Turfgrass harvested from ant mound perimeters exhibited elevated N, P, Ca2+, S, Cu2+, Fe2+, and Na+ concentrations. The complexity of biogeochemical interactions within ant nests was most likely further enhanced by plant uptake and excretion in the rhizosphere coupled with continuous soil mixing by colony workers. Therefore, further study of the intrinsic complexities of soil ecosystem dynamics of IFA nests across seasons is warranted.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014
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