The Co-limitation Conundrum: Can the Elemental Composition of Insects Help to Better Predict the Success of Invasive Species?
Troy Harry Lampenfeld, Ryan William Reihart
The ability to predict changes in the abundance and diversity of consumers is of fundamental ecological importance; however, humans are altering global calcium and sodium cycles with unknown consequences on consumers. Calcium and sodium are essential nutrients which are important for the physiological functioning of consumers, the availability of which, can play a large role in their success establishing in an ecosystem. The effects of these nutrient influxes on consumer success is largely unknown but utilizing consumer stoichiometry may help us to predict the effect that nutrient changes will have on consumers and ecosystem structure. These predictions will be especially useful to understand the reasons for the success of invasive species, addressing a primary question of invasion ecology. Nylanderia fulva are an invasive ant which can dominate litter communities in coastal prairies and exhibits varying responses to Ca and Na: high concentrations of Ca increase colony size while diets high in Na suppress colony size. Over the course of the 2019 summer, we conducted feeding trials with 128 experimental colonies that manipulated the amount of Ca and Na in the food of N. fulva by increasing each nutrient by 10%, 25%, and 50% (for a total of 16 different diets, each replicated 8 times) to determine if these nutrients affect colony fitness and stoichiometry. To determine if consumer stoichiometry can be used to predict the nutrient effect of N. fulva, we pooled workers (N = 16) and larvae (N = 16) from the feeding trials and collected an additional 21 colonies in the field that will be sent for nutrient analyses. Knowing how stoichiometry affects insects’ response to environmental nutrients could help to develop an understanding of how human activities may affect the success of invasive species and may help to better predict which ecosystems are susceptible to invasion.
Chelse M. Prather
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium project, College of Arts and Sciences
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Climate Action; Life On Land
"The Co-limitation Conundrum: Can the Elemental Composition of Insects Help to Better Predict the Success of Invasive Species?" (2020). Stander Symposium Projects. 1943.