Ants in Pine Forests of Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, Mississippi
Joe A. MacGown and JoVonn G. Hill
Click links to view ants in the primary habitat types at the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge.
[Noxubee Ants-all habitats] [pine forests] [pine/hardwood forests] [bottomland hardwood forests] [upland hardwood forests] [fields, grasslands, & other open areas] [disturbed wooded areas]
A recent project was undertaken by the MEM to survey the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Oktibbeha, Noxubee, and Winston Counties for ants. The refuge owns approximately 48,000 acres, which can be separated into three primary habitats: forests, fields and grasslands, and wetlands. By far, forests form the majority of the refuge and cover about 45,000 acres (about 93%). The forests can be further divided into four major types including pine (23,619 acres), mixed pine/hardwood (2,851 acres), bottomland hardwood (15,453 acres), and upland hardwood (3,263 acres). In this study we examined six terrestrial habitat types to determine species compositions for each habitat. Habitat types for this study included pine forests (both mature and young forests, and recently burned or unburned); bottomland hardwood forests (including cypress dominanted areas); upland hardwood forests; mixed pine/hardwood forests (including one area intermixed with cedar); open habitats including fields, grasslands, roadsides, and a sand pit; and disturbed, open mixed forests located near buildings and picnic areas. The latter disturbed sites were included because of their likelihood of being ideal habitats for various exotic species. In addition to the ants collected during this survey, the total list of species from the refuge includes earlier records of ants collected by the Mississippi Entomological Museum (MEM). Collecting methods included baiting, beating and sweeping vegetation, litter sampling, and visually searching for ants and their colonies. Our collections have revealed a diverse fauna, and we have collected 98 species (species list) at the refuge.
About half of the refuge, approximately 23,619 acres, is made up of pine forests, which is dominated by loblolly, but interspersed with some shortleaf pine. The pine forests of the refuge are in various degrees of growth from newly planted to mature pine forests. Additionally, the older stands are regularly burned to keep the understory in check. Because these pine forests are burned regularly, it is likely that many of the more microhabitat specific litter dwelling species are adversely affected, although some of these species should be able to "hang on" at the peripheries of burned areas. Our preliminary collections have verified this, and so far we have collected only four of the soil and litter dwelling dacetine species in pine forests, which is our most speciose group in Mississippi. Thus far we have found 43 species in pine habitat, but as more species are collected, this list will be updated (species list below).
Pine Forest on Keaton Tower Road, burned a couple of years earlier, now dense with undergrowth.
Pine Forest on Keaton Tower Road
Mature pine forest at the Woodpecker Trail, burned about one month earlier
Another view of the pine forest at the Woodpecker Trail
(Species are arranged taxonomically by genus)
Camponotus americanus Mayr (pest)
Camponotus castaneus (Latreille) (pest)
Camponotus chromaiodes Bolton (pest)
Camponotus obliquus Smith
Camponotus pennsylvanicus (DeGeer) (pest)
Camponotus snellingi Bolton (pest)
Camponotus subbarbatus Emery (pest)
Aphaenogaster carolinensis Wheeler
Aphaenogaster fulva Roger
Aphaenogaster lamellidens Mayr
Aphaenogaster treatae Forel
Pheidole dentata Mayr (pest?)
Pheidole dentigula Smith
Pheidole metallescens Emery
MacGown, J. A., J. G. Hill, T. L. Schiefer, and R. L. Brown. 2012. Ant diversity and habitat associations at the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi. Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station Technical Bulletin 1197. [pdf]
Landmarks article about the Noxubee Study [pdf]
Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge [http://www.fws.gov/noxubee/]