For those that don’t much care for strip malls and fast-casual dining options popping up in your city each day, it can be argued that “urban corridors” offer little but urban sprawl and generic food and I myself am not a fan. There are, however, environmentalists who promote unintended consequences as a result of genetic modifications that occur with habitat corridors. Unfortunately, they forgot about the nasty little fire ant and its millions or billions of friends that are interested in domination…like ISIS.
Habitat Corridors: Benefits and the dangers
“Although habitat corridors are usually beneficial, they occasionally have negative effects,” says Julian Resasco and colleagues at the University of Florida. “Sometimes they can help invasive species spread in exactly the same way they help native species.”
One would think that fire ants could go wherever they want, and they largely can. They do seem to be a touch lazy and more than happy to simply take the road most traveled, often the one with a path of least resistance running along side of it.
The researchers took a trip north to South Carolina to study eight tracts of land dominated by either monogyne or polygyne fire ants..or both. The former mate in the air and disperse by essentially falling from the sky. The latter ants mate low to the ground, and usually simply crawl on the ground to create new considerably more dense colonies.
The eight sections of land studied each consisted of five patches of regenerating habitat roughly the size of a soccer pitch or football field. Some were connected by habitat corridors while others weren’t allowing for the study of corridor influence.
Habitat Corridors: The findings and the dangers
Their findings? Polygyne ant populations in areas with corridors saw less ant diversity as the fire ants either killed off or ran out other species of ants.
As the group looks to raise money for the Everglades National Park to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, it begs the question how people from Georgia are going to feel about the potential invasion of Cuban tree frogs, green iguanas and feral hogs not native to Peach State.
“It is not a coincidence that the readily dispersing monogyne form of fire ants doesn’t benefit from corridors, whereas the poorly dispersing polygyne form does,” said Resasco.
Essentially, be careful what you wish for in your conservation efforts if you don’t like foreigners whether they be snakes, frogs, lizards or other invasive species.