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Occurrence of Carpenter Ants in Ozark Forests in Relation to Prescribed Fire and Stand Variables

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Fire is a natural abiotic disturbance agent that is important in determining the vegetation patterns observed in many hardwood forests. Although natural fire was suppressed through much of the 20th century, in the late 20th century, fire was reintroduced into many ecosystems in the form of prescribed burning. The effects of fire on insect populations are not well understood. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of prescribed fire, tree species, and tree size on black carpenter ant abundance and distribution. The effects of prescribed fire, tree species group, and tree dbh on black carpenter occurrence were studied using a presence‐absence baited test on 3,556 trees in the oak‐hickory forests of the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Trees were distributed over unburned areas and areas burned in the dormant seasons of 2005, 2006, and 2007. Black carpenter ants occurred most frequently at baits on large red oaks and least frequently at baits on small hickories, suggesting that they preferentially forage on certain tree species and sizes. Occurrence of black carpenter ants varied by fire treatment. Habitat alterations are likely to be a cause of ant occurrence patterns in oak‐hickory forests, but additional studies are necessary to understand the mechanism behind this trend.

Keywords: Camponotus; disturbance; fire‐insect interactions; oak‐hickory forest; red oak borer

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-02-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Southern Journal of Applied Forestry covers an area from Virginia and Kentucky south to as far west as Oklahoma and east Texas.
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