Title

Dietary and Spatial Preferences of Urban Ants

Poster Number

5

Lead Author Major

Biological Sciences

Format

Poster Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Zachary Stahlschmidt

Faculty Mentor Department

Biological Sciences

Abstract/Artist Statement

To survive, animals in cities must navigate disturbed environments to find their preferred food (e.g., sugar-rich, protein-rich, or mixed nutrient [sugar and protein/fat] sources of food). Here, on the University of the Pacific campus (a model urban environment), we examined the food preferences of actively foraging ants using four types of bait (sugar, tuna, honeyed tuna, or cookies [Pecan Sandies®]) across microenvironments that varied in the degree of sunlight (shaded or unshaded) and type of surface (paved or unpaved). Across seven different species, we detected significant effects of surface type on the number of species (i.e., species richness) on each bait and of the type of bait on the evenness of each species. Unpaved surfaces (grass or dirt) had greater numbers of species while honeyed tuna and Pecan Sandies® baits had greater evenness than sugar baits. This study suggests that ant communities in an urban environment prefer food sources that are more nutritionally complete (i.e., composed of both sugar, as well as protein and/or fat) and that are found on unpaved surfaces. Because urban environments are characterized by paved surfaces but also by a relative abundance of nutrients (e.g., discarded food or food containers), future studies should further explore dietary and spatial preferences in both rural and urban environments.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Ballroom

Start Date

30-4-2016 1:30 AM

End Date

30-4-2016 3:30 PM

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Apr 30th, 1:30 AM Apr 30th, 3:30 PM

Dietary and Spatial Preferences of Urban Ants

DeRosa University Center, Ballroom

To survive, animals in cities must navigate disturbed environments to find their preferred food (e.g., sugar-rich, protein-rich, or mixed nutrient [sugar and protein/fat] sources of food). Here, on the University of the Pacific campus (a model urban environment), we examined the food preferences of actively foraging ants using four types of bait (sugar, tuna, honeyed tuna, or cookies [Pecan Sandies®]) across microenvironments that varied in the degree of sunlight (shaded or unshaded) and type of surface (paved or unpaved). Across seven different species, we detected significant effects of surface type on the number of species (i.e., species richness) on each bait and of the type of bait on the evenness of each species. Unpaved surfaces (grass or dirt) had greater numbers of species while honeyed tuna and Pecan Sandies® baits had greater evenness than sugar baits. This study suggests that ant communities in an urban environment prefer food sources that are more nutritionally complete (i.e., composed of both sugar, as well as protein and/or fat) and that are found on unpaved surfaces. Because urban environments are characterized by paved surfaces but also by a relative abundance of nutrients (e.g., discarded food or food containers), future studies should further explore dietary and spatial preferences in both rural and urban environments.