The queen craves calcium: micronutrient effects on litter arthropods in a coastal tallgrass prairie
The biogeochemistry of earth is being redistributed through various anthropogenic activities; however, the consequences of these alterations on high trophic levels remains unknown. Along the coast, for example, marine-derived nutrients are being deposited by large tropical storms, which may be increasing in intensity and frequency with climate change. These storms have the potential to deposit large amounts of micronutrients, which are less abundant in living tissue, and could affect the abundance and diversity of litter arthropods. Despite understanding how macronutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) affect litter arthropods, the effect of micronutrients (calcium, sodium, and potassium) remains unknown. To determine how biogeochemistry affects litter arthropods, we utilized a factorial, fertilization experiment that manipulates macro- and micronutrients (N&P, Ca, K, and Na; all possible combinations: 16 treatments x 8 replicates = 128 plots) in large 30 m x 30 m plots at the University of Houston Coastal Center near Houston, TX. Pitfall traps were installed in May and July 2017 to collect litter arthropods, which were sorted and identified to the lowest possible taxon. Results show that Nylanderia fulva, an invasive crazy ant, was the dominant litter arthropod across all treatments, as this ant composed >95% of the entire litter community. Additionally, predatory arthropods were limited by Ca, but were suppressed by the combination of Na and K. Arthropod prey in this ecosystem were most abundant in the combination of macronutrient (N&P) and Na treatments, indicating that prey are co-limited by macronutrients and Na. These results indicate that different trophic levels, predators and prey, can be limited by different nutrients within the same ecosystem, while also giving insight as to what makes an invasive species so successful.
Kathleen A Kargl, Chelse M Prather
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium poster
"The queen craves calcium: micronutrient effects on litter arthropods in a coastal tallgrass prairie" (2018). Stander Symposium Posters. 1384.