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Top Story

Lizards may be overwhelmed by fire ants and social stress combined

Lizards living in fire-ant-invaded areas are stressed. However, a team of biologists found that the lizards did not exhibit this stress as expected after extended fire ant exposure in socially stressful environments, leading to questions about stress overload. The researchers wanted to know the short- and long-term physiological effects on fence lizards due to invading fire ants. Prior research showed that lizards in fire-ant-invaded areas have elevated stress levels in their natural habitats, but did not pinpoint the cause of that stress. The researchers speculated that the combination of fire ant exposure and social stress--moving to a new environment, interacting with new lizards and being watched by researchers--may have overwhelmed the lizards' ability to manage stress, like blowing a fuse in a power surge.

Visit Website | Image credit: Tracy Langkilde and Travis Robbins, Pennsylvania State University