Title page for ETD etd-05222009-104032

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Brown, Preston Hunter
Author's Email Address prbrown@vt.edu
URN etd-05222009-104032
Title Spatiotemporal Composition of Pest Ant Species in the Residential Environments of Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico
Degree Master of Science In the Life Sciences
Department Entomology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Miller, Dini M. Committee Chair
Brewster, Carlyle C. Committee Member
Fell, Richard D. Committee Member
  • Succession
  • Puerto Rico
  • Diversity
  • Ants
Date of Defense 2009-04-03
Availability unrestricted
Few studies have evaluated the community dynamics of pest ant species in tropical urban environments. Pest ant community dynamics were examined within three Puerto Rican housing developments. Housing developments (one, four, and eight years old), representing different stages of urban succession were sampled to determine which species were present and the relative species abundance. Eight trips were made to Puerto Rico over a one-year period, and more than 1,000 samples were collected during each trip. The ants collected in each sample were counted and identified. A total of 25 different species were identified from the developments, with the major pest species being big-headed, rover, and red imported fire ants (RIFA). Fourteen different species were identified from the one-year-old site. However, RIFA and rover ants were the most abundant, accounting for >75% of ants collected. In the four-year-old site, 20 species were identified. However, three species (RIFA, big-headed, and destructive trailing ants) were dominant, accounting for >75% of ants collected. Sampling data from the eight-year-old site indicated that out of 21 species identified, four species were dominant (RIFA, crazy, and two species of big-headed ants) and accounted for >75% of the ants collected. The dominant species within each site were different, indicating that the pest ant community changed during the stages of succession. However, these dominant species did not specifically impact the distribution of other species within the same site. Spatial analysis indicated that the number of species coexisting within a site increased as the age of the development increased.
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