Red imported fire ants can decrease songbird nest survival
Authors: A. J. Campomizzi, M. L. Morrison, S. L. Farrell, R. N. Wilkins, B. M. Drees, J. M. Packard
Invasive species are often implicated in population declines of native species because of predation. The red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) has been documented to prey on songbird nests. We conducted a replicated manipulative experiment to determine the decrease in nest survival caused by S. invicta. In 2006 and 2007 we monitored 71 nests, 44 of the Whiteeyed Vireo (Vireo griseus) and 27 of the Black-capped Vireo (V. atricapilla), in nine patches of 36–103 ha each in central Texas. We prevented S. invicta from preying on nests by applying insect-specific chemical and physical barriers at individual nests. Excluding S. invicta increased nest survival from 10% to 31% for the White-eyed Vireo and from 7% to 13% for the Black-capped Vireo. Our results suggest the decrease in nest survival of songbirds susceptible to predation by S. invicta may be substantial in the areas this ant occupies.
Campomizzi, A. J., M. L. Morrison, S. L. Farrell, R. N. Wilkins, B. M. Drees, and J. M. Packard. 2009. Red imported fire ants can decrease songbird nest survival. Condor 111:534-537.