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Picture of the Day

Are fire ants worse this spring because of Hurricane Harvey?

With support from the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Rapid Response Research (RAPID) program, Rice University ecologists are evaluating whether Harvey increased opportunities for invasion by exotic ants. The researchers plan to assemble a functional trait database for the ant communities to test whether the Harvey floodwaters favored some types of ant species -- such as those with larger bodies or more-protected nests -- over others. Fire ants and crazy ants, which are each native to South America, are noxious invasive pests that tend to overwhelm and drive out almost all native ant species. If the floods cleaned the slate by drowning all the native ant colonies in the area, the researchers' hypothesis is that this may provide a competitive advantage to invaders. NSF's RAPID grants support research of natural disasters and unanticipated events for which time is a factor in gathering data.

Visit Website | Image credit: Alex Wild/University of Texas