Accuracy of red imported fire ant mound density estimates

A. R. Forbes, J. M. Mueller, R. B. Mitchell, C. B. Dabbert, D. B. Wester

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7 Scopus citations


Accuracy of red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren, mound density estimates was evaluated during 1998 in the Texas Coastal Prairie. Mound densities were estimated using belt transects and distance sampling, the grasslands were burned, and the estimated mound densities compared to complete ant mound counts made on each of the five sites. Mound population density estimates did not differ among the three methods. Detection of S. invicta mounds decreased with distance from the line transect on three sites. Based on the detection function derived by Program DISTANCE for these sites, we recorded 89.9, 97.3, and 98.1% of S. invicta mounds within 1 m and 70.8, 89.9, and 92.7% of S. invicta mounds within 2 m of the line transects, respectively. The 2-m belt transects and distance sampling are accurate estimators of S. invicta mound densities in grassland habitats. Although distance sampling is more time consuming, it does not require the assumption that all mounds are observed. This benefit was not obvious in this study because of the similarity of our sites and the high detectability of mounds within the 2-m belt transects. Accuracy of belt transects would decrease if wider transects were used or if detectability of S. invicta mounds was lower, such as in denser vegetation. We recommend using belt transects or distance sampling to estimate S. invicta mound density in grassland habitats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-112
Number of pages4
JournalSouthwestern Entomologist
Issue number2 SUPPL.
StatePublished - 2000


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