Meeting Abstract

78.2  Friday, Jan. 6  Survival under pressure: lethal and sublethal effects of an invasive predator, the red imported fire ant, on a spiny lizard THAWLEY, C.J.*; ROBBINS, T.R.; LANGKILDE, T.; Pennsylvania State University

Environmental interactions play a major role in structuring communities and determining the life histories of species. Anthropogenic impacts, such as climate change and introduced species, alter these interactions and, as a result, change existing selective pressures. The strength of these pressures and species' capacity to respond to them will determine whether populations and communities can persist under these novel threats. While much research has focused on lethal impacts of global change, sub-lethal effects are common and can present serious challenges for native species. We conducted a transplant experiment to examine the effects of red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) presence on the survival, growth, and behavior of a common lizard (Sceloporus undulatus) in the southeastern U.S. We show that selective pressures imposed by fire ants differ across ontogeny. Adult lizards have decreased survival in the presence of fire ants while juveniles survive equally well. Sub-lethal effects also vary, as fire ant presence results in lower growth rates and body condition in juvenile lizards and a behavioral shift in perch height in adults. These data show that invaders can alter selective pressures in multiple, nuanced ways across the life history of native species. Insight into diverse pressures imposed by invasive species may allow us to understand longer-term consequences for native communities and more effectively manage remaining biodiversity.