Effects of conservation reserve program seeding regime on harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex), with implications for the threatened Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum)

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Abstract

I compared the presence and abundance of nest-sites made by harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex), the primary prey for the endangered Texas horned lizard (Phrynosoma cornutum), among restored grassland plots planted in different grass species and indigenous prairie. The restored plots had been seeded as part of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) as exotic monocultures of either Old World bluestem (Bothriochloa ischaemum) or weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula), or as mixtures of native grasses (both with and without buffalograss, Buchloë dactyloides). On average, the fewest ant mounds were found on Old World bluestem plots, whereas the indigenous grassland had the highest density of harvester ant mounds. However, there were no significant differences between native and exotic CRP plantings. Results obtained from a simultaneous visual survey for Texas horned lizards corroborate these findings. Thus, there is no evidence that CRP plots planted in exotic grasses are significantly poorer habitat for Texas horned lizards in terms of ant abundance than native grass plantings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-277
Number of pages4
JournalSouthwestern Naturalist
Volume48
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2003

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