NEW PAPER OUT! Invasive Saltcedar and Drought Impact Ant Communities and Isopods in South-Central Nebraska


It has been a busy March as our third paper of 2020 was recently published in Environmental Entomology! This was a fun collaboration with Wyatt Hoback at Oklahoma State University, who I first met while working on our Ants of Oklahoma project. We decided to tackle a data set that had been collected almost 15 years prior from one of his MS students looking at how invasive saltcedar and drought may combine to shape ant communities and isopod abundance in Nebraska. Abstract below from Wyatt…

“The establishment and spread of non-native species often results in negative impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem function. Several species of saltcedar, Tamarix spp. L., have been recently naturalized in large portions of the United States where they have altered plant and animal communities. To test the prediction that saltcedar negatively affects invertebrates, we measured ant genera diversity and the activity density of the exotic isopod Armadillidium vulgare Latrielle (Isopoda: Oniscoidea) for 2 yr using pitfall traps located within 30 5-m2 plots with or without saltcedar at a south-central Nebraska reservoir. From 2005 to 2006, we collected 10,837 ants representing 17 genera and 4,953 A. vulgare. Per plot, the average number of ant genera was not different between saltcedar (x̅ = 3.9) and non-saltcedar areas ( x̅ = 3.9); however, saltcedar plots were compositionally different and more similar from plot to plot (i.e., they had lower beta diversity than control plots) in 2005, but not in 2006. Isopods were likewise temporally affected with higher activity density (+89%) in control plots in 2005, but higher activity density (+27%) in saltcedar plots in 2006. The observed temporal differences occurred as the drought that initially enabled the saltcedar invasion became less severe in 2006. Combined, our results suggest that invertebrate groups like ants, which are generally omnivorous, may be better equipped than more specialized taxa like detritivores to withstand habitat changes due to invasions by non-native species, especially during extreme weather events such as prolonged droughts.”

You can find the whole paper at Environmental Entomology by [CLICKING HERE].