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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Effect of Red Imported Fire Ant Envenomization on Neonatal American Alligators

Authors
item Allen, Craig - UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
item Rice, Kenneth - UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
item Wojcik, Daniel
item Percival, H. - UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

Submitted to: Journal of Herpetology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 30, 1998
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Red imported Fire ants, Solenopsis invicta, occur in 13 states and cause millions of dollars in damage to domestic animals, wildlife, roads, and electrical systems. An increasing body of evidence implicates RIFA in the decline of some vertebrate populations. To this end, researchers at the ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, Fl, in cooperation with state researchers have tested the effects of stinging RIFA on the body mass of hatchling American alligators and the vulnerability of alligator eggs to RIFA prior to hatching. Non- viable alligator eggs were placed in laboratory colonies and in RIFA field colonies. Eggs were breached and fed upon only if irregularities existed on the egg surface. Pipping alligators in a semi-natural laboratory setting were stung heavily by RIFA. Direct mortality was low, but the body mass of stung individuals was lower than that of control individuals. Differences in body mass remained at 3 weeks post-treatment. This effect may lead to decreased survival of impacted juvenile alligators. These results are important because this is the first instance of indirect effects on reptile.

Technical Abstract: An increasing body of evidence implicates the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta in the decline of some vertebrate populations. However, few studies have documented the modes of impact. We tested the effects of stinging by S. invicta on the body mass of hatchling American alligators and the vulnerability of alligator eggs to S. invicta predation prior to hatching. Alligator eggs were breached and contents utilized as a food source by S. invicta only if irregularities existed on the egg surface. Pipping alligators in a semi-natural laboratory setting were stung heavily by S. invict Direct mortality was low, however, the body mass of stung individuals was lower than that of control individuals. Differences in body mass remained at 3 weeks post-treatment. This effect may lead to decreased survival of impacted juvenile alligators.

Last Modified: 10/20/2014
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