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Search Results: 1 - 10 of 229879 matches for " Walter R. Tschinkel "
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The Life Cycle and Life Span of Namibian Fairy Circles
Walter R. Tschinkel
PLOS ONE , 2012, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038056
Abstract: In Namibia of southwestern Africa, the sparse grasslands that develop on deep sandy soils under rainfall between 50 and 100 mm per annum are punctuated by thousands of quasi-circular bare spots, usually surrounded by a ring of taller grass. The causes of these so-called “fairy circles” are unknown, although a number of hypotheses have been proposed. This paper provides a more complete description of the variation in size, density and attributes of fairy circles in a range of soil types and situations. Circles are not permanent; their vegetative and physical attributes allow them to be arranged into a life history sequence in which circles appear (birth), develop (mature) and become revegetated (die). Occasionally, they also enlarge. The appearance and disappearance of circles was confirmed from satellite images taken 4 years apart (2004, 2008). The frequency of births and deaths as a fraction of the total population of circles allowed the calculation of an approximate turnover rate, and from this, an estimate of circle lifespan. Lifespan appeared to vary with circle size, with small circles averaging about 24 years, and larger ones 43–75 years. Overall lifespan averaged about 41 yr. A second, independent estimate of lifespan was made by revisiting circles 2 to 9 years after their clear status had been confirmed. This resulted in a lifespan estimate of about 60 years. Any causal explanation of fairy circles must include their birth, development and death, their mean lifespan and the variation of their features under different conditions.
The nest architecture of the Florida harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex badius
Walter R. Tschinkel
Journal of Insect Science , 2004,
Abstract: The architecture of the subterranean nests of the Florida harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex badius, was studied through excavation and casting. Nests are composed of two basic units: descending shafts and horizontal chambers. Shafts form helices with diameters of 4 to 6 cm, and descend at an angle of about 15-20° near the surface, increasing to about 70° below about 50 cm in depth. Superficial chambers (< 15 cm deep) appear to be modified shafts with low angles of descent, and are distinct from deeper chambers. In larger nests, they have a looping, connected morphology. Chambers begin on the outside of the helix as horizontal-floored, circular indentations, becoming multi-lobed as they are enlarged. Chamber height is about 1 cm, and does not change with area. Chamber area is greatest in the upper reaches of the nest, and decreases with depth. Vertical spacing between chambers is least in the upper reaches and increases to a maximum at about 70 to 80% of the maximum depth of the nest. The distribution of chamber area is top-heavy, with about half the total area occurring in the top quarter of the nest. Each 10% depth increment of the nest contains 25 to 40% less area than the decile above it, no matter what the size of the nest.
The natural history of the arboreal ant, Crematogaster ashmeadi
Walter R. Tschinkel
Journal of Insect Science , 2002,
Abstract: The arboreal ant, Crematogaster ashmeadi Emery (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), is the most dominant arboreal ant in the pine forests of the coastal plain of northern Florida. The majority of pine trees harbor a colony of these ants. The colonies inhabit multiple chambers abandoned by bark-mining caterpillars, especially those of the family Cossidae, in the outer bark of living pines. They also inhabit ground level termite galleries in the bark, often locating the queen in galleries. The density of chambers and ants is highest in the base of the tree and drops sharply with height on the trunk. Because chambers are formed in the inner layer of bark, they gradually move outward as more bark layers are laid down, eventually sloughing off the tree's outer surface. Chambers have a mean lifetime of about 25 yr. The abundant chambers in pine bark are excavated by a small population of caterpillars and accumulate over decades. Ant colonies also inhabit abandoned galleries of woodboring beetles in dead branches in the crowns of pines. Because newly mated queens found colonies in abandoned woodboring beetle galleries in the first dead branches that form on pine saplings, C. ashmeadi is dependent on cavities made by other insects throughout its life cycle, and does little if any excavation of its own. Mature colonies nest preferentially in chambers greater than 10 cm2 in area, a relatively rare chamber size. In natural pine forests, this does not seem to limit the ant's populations.
The Morphometry of Solenopsis Fire Ants
Walter R. Tschinkel
PLOS ONE , 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079559
Abstract: Size-related changes of body shape were explored in 15 polymorphic species of Solenopsis fire ants by analyzing body weight along with linear measurements of 24 body parts. Log regression slopes were used to detect changes of shape with increasing size. Within species, the largest workers weighed from about 5 to 30-fold as much as the smallest. The range of within-species body lengths varied from 1.6 mm to 4 mm. As worker size increased, the gaster tended to make up a larger proportion of body length, usually at the cost of the petiole, and rarely at the cost of head length or mesosoma length. In most, the relative volume of the gaster increased and that of the head and mesosoma decreased. Most also showed an increasingly “humped” mesosoma. For all species, head shape changed from barrel-shaped to heart-shaped as worker size increased. Antennae became relatively shorter as the relative size of the club decreased. Shape changes of the legs were more variable. S. geminata was exceptional in the extreme nature of its head shape change, and was the only species in which relative head volume increased and gaster volume decreased with increasing body size. With the exception of S. geminata, the allometric rules governing shape are remarkably similar across species, suggesting a genus-level developmental scheme that is not easily modified by evolution. It also suggests that the evolution of shape is highly constrained by these conserved growth rules, and that it acts primarily (perhaps only) through allometric growth. The results are discussed in light of the growth of imaginal discs in a resource-limited body (the pupa). The substantial variation of allometries within species and across localities is also discussed in relation to using allometric patterns to identify species or to construct phylogenies.
Florida Harvester Ant Nest Architecture, Nest Relocation and Soil Carbon Dioxide Gradients
Walter R. Tschinkel
PLOS ONE , 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059911
Abstract: Colonies of the Florida harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex badius, excavate species-typical subterranean nests up the 3 m deep with characteristic vertical distribution of chamber area/shape, spacing between levels and vertical arrangement of the ants by age and brood stage. Colonies excavate and occupy a new nest about once a year, and doing so requires that they have information about the depth below ground. Careful excavation and mapping of vacated and new nests revealed that there was no significant difference between the old and new nests in any measure of nest size, shape or arrangement. Colonies essentially built a replicate of the just-vacated nest (although details differed), and they did so in less than a week. The reason for nest relocation is not apparent. Tschinkel noted that the vertical distribution of chamber area, worker age and brood type was strongly correlated to the soil carbon dioxide gradient, and proposed that this gradient serves as a template for nest excavation and vertical distribution. To test this hypothesis, the carbon dioxide gradient of colonies that were just beginning to excavate a new nest was eliminated by boring 6 vent holes around the forming nest, allowing the soil CO2 to diffuse into the atmosphere and eliminating the gradient. Sadly, neither the nest architecture nor the vertical ant distribution of vented nests differed from either unvented control or from their own vacated nest. In a stronger test, workers excavated a new nest under a reversed carbon dioxide gradient (high concentration near the surface, low below). Even under these conditions, the new and old nests did not differ significantly, showing that the soil carbon dioxide gradient does not serve as a template for nest construction or vertical worker distribution. The possible importance of soil CO2 gradients for soil-dwelling animals is discussed.
Distribution, spread, and ecological associations of the introduced ant Pheidole obscurithorax in the southeastern United States
Shonna R. Storz,Walter R. Tschinkel
Journal of Insect Science , 2004,
Abstract: A field survey of the southeastern United States showed that Pheidole obscurithorax Naves, an ant introduced from South America, inhabits a 80-km-wide band along the coast between Mobile, Alabama, and Tallahassee, Florida, and is continuing to increase its range. In Tallahassee P. obscurithorax is rapidly spreading, and its nest density increased by a factor of 6.4 over a two-year period. Evidence suggests that P. obscurithorax has spread gradually by natural means. It coexists with the fire ant Solenopsis invicta Buren, appears to be part of a largely exotic community of ants that are tolerant of highly disturbed habitats, and seems to have little negative effect on the ant communities that it invades.
The Role of Habitat in the Persistence of Fire Ant Populations
Walter R. Tschinkel, Joshua R. King
PLOS ONE , 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0078580
Abstract: The association of the exotic fire ant, Solenopsis invicta with man-modified habitats has been amply demonstrated, but the fate of such populations if ecological succession proceeds has rarely been investigated. Resurvey of a fire ant population in a longleaf pine plantation after 25 years showed that the recovery of the site from habitat disturbance was associated with a large fire ant population decline. Most of the persisting colonies were associated with the disturbance caused by vehicle tracks. In a second study, mature monogyne fire ant colonies that had been planted in experimental plots in native groundcover of the north Florida longleaf pine forest had mostly vanished six years later. These observations and experiments show that S. invicta colonies rarely persist in the native habitat of these pine forests, probably because they are not replaced when they die. A single site harbored a modest population of polygyne fire ants whose persistence was probably facilitated by reproduction through colony fission.
Allometry of workers of the fire ant, Solenopsis invicta
Walter R. Tschinkel,Alexander S. Mikheyev,Shonna R. Storz
Journal of Insect Science , 2003,
Abstract: The relationship between worker body size and the shape of their body parts was explored in the polymorphic ant, Solenopsis invicta. The data consisted of 20 measurements of body parts as well as sums of some of these measurements. Size-free shape variables were created by taking the ratios of relevant measures. After log-transformation, these ratios were regressed against the logarithm of total body length, or against the log of the size of the parent part. Slopes of zero indicated that shape did not change with size, and non-zero slopes signaled a size-related change of shape. Across the range of worker sizes, the head length retained a constant proportion to body length, but relative headwidth increased such that head shape changed from a barrel-profile to a somewhat heart-shaped profile. Antennae became relatively smaller, with the club contributing more to this decline than the other parts. The alinotum became relatively shorter and higher (more humped), and the gaster increased in both relative width and length, and therefore in volume. All three pairs of legs were isometric to body length. The component parts of the legs, with one exception, were isometric to their own total leg length. The body of S. invicta is therefore dominated by mostly modest allometries, giving large workers a somewhat different shape than small ones. None of these size-shape relationships was different for different colonies. The functional meaning of these shape changes is unknown, but that does not stop us from speculating.
Ant community change across a ground vegetation gradient in north Florida's longleaf pine flatwoods
David Lubertazzi,Walter Tschinkel
Journal of Insect Science , 2003,
Abstract: Ant communities in longleaf pine habitats are poorly known and hence the naturally occurring ant assemblages of a large portion of southeastern North America are not well understood. This study examined the diverse ant community found in the longleaf pine flatwoods of north Florida and tested how ant diversity changes along a herbaceous ground cover gradient. Restoring the ground cover to its original floral composition is an important focus of longleaf pine conservation and hence it is important to understand how native faunal communities vary with ground cover variation. Using 4 sampling methods, we characterized the ant community and analyzed its within-habitat variation among 12 study sites. We found the highest plot species richness (55 species) and within-habitat species richness (72 species) ever recorded for North American ants. The ants formed three distinct communities. The low-diversity arboreal and subterranean assemblages varied little across forest stands while the diversity of the species-rich ground foraging ant community was negatively correlated with percent herbaceous cover. The imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta (monogyne form), was unexpectedly found to be abundant in high herbaceous cover sites. Floral restoration of the pine flatwoods, which is increasing the proportion of herbaceous cover, is likely to cause an increase in the abundance of the imported fire ant.
Neurologic adverse events associated with smallpox vaccination in the United States – response and comment on reporting of headaches as adverse events after smallpox vaccination among military and civilian personnel
Walter R Schumm
BMC Medicine , 2006, DOI: 10.1186/1741-7015-4-27
Abstract: A report by Sejvar et al was examined closely for accuracy with respect to the reporting of neurologic adverse events associated with smallpox vaccination in the United States. Rates for headaches were reported by several scholarly sources, in addition to Sejvar et al, permitting a comparison of reporting rates as a function of source and type of surveillance.Several major errors or omissions were identified in Sejvar et al. The count of civilian subjects vaccinated and the totals of both civilians and military personnel vaccinated were reported incorrectly by Sejvar et al. Counts of headaches reported in VAERS were lower (n = 95) for Sejvar et al than for Casey et al (n = 111) even though the former allegedly used 665,000 subjects while the latter used fewer than 40,000 subjects, with both using approximately the same civilian sources. Consequently, rates of nearly 20 neurologic adverse events reported by Sejvar et al were also incorrectly calculated. Underreporting of headaches after smallpox vaccination appears to increase for military samples and for passive adverse event reporting systems.Until revised or corrected, the rates of neurologic adverse events after smallpox vaccinated reported by Sejvar et al must be deemed invalid. The concept of determining overall rates of adverse events by combining small civilian samples with large military samples appears to be invalid. Reports of headaches as adverse events after smallpox vaccination appear to be have occurred much less frequently using passive surveillance systems and by members of the U.S. military compared to civilians, especially those employed in healthcare occupations. Such concerns impact risk-benefit ratios associated with vaccines and weigh against making vaccinations mandatory, without informed consent, even among military members. Because of the issues raised here, adverse event rates derived solely or primarily from U.S. Department of Defense reporting systems, especially passive surveillance syst
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