Lizard defense from invasive fire ants
One of the many modern-day challenges presented to scientists is the impact of invasive species on natural habitats and native populations. In the southern U.S., for example, red imported fire ants spread rapidly, destroy crops and sting humans and animals alike. For native fence lizards, Sceloporus undulatus, the options are to adapt and co-exist with these ants or to run the risk of lethal consequences.
Tracy Langkilde from Pennsylvania State University found elevated levels of stress hormones, called glucocorticoids, in lizard populations inhabiting areas near large numbers of fire ants. In other words, lizards exposed to repeated attacks by fire ants had higher stress levels and a heightened awareness of fire ant threats. As Langkilde explains, "this suggests that, rather than being a cause for concern, elevated levels of physiological stress within invaded [lizard] populations may be playing an important role in driving [adaptations] to novel threats."
The contributed oral session "Stress and invasion: factors influencing the escape behavior of native fence lizards in response to introduced fire ants" by Tracy Langkilde, Pennsylvania State University, will be held Monday, August 2, 2010 at 4:00 pm.
Other sessions on species interactions include:
The contributed oral session "Double deception: ant-mimicking spiders fool both visually and chemically-or
|Contact: Katie Kline|
Ecological Society of America