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Abstract

Invasive species are harmful to ocean environments especially fragile ecosystems, like intertidal island environments. Ant populations are among the most aggressive invaders. Ants have been known to cause individual harm to endangered birds, plants and other arthropods in Hawai‘i. The yellow crazy ant (YCA), Anoplolepis gracilipes, is one of the worst invasive ants as it can form supercolonies and spew out formic acid. This study investigates the effect of YCA on the abundance, sizes and distribution of ghost crabs, Ocypode spp., at James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge (JCNWF), a native wildlife restoration area. Ghost crab’s burrows were counted and measured (a proxy for crab size), in order to see if there is a relationship between ghost crab size/number to the density of ants (both invasive YCA and others) present. Ghost crabs are vital to sandy intertidal regions as they are the link to land and water ecosystems and are opportunistic. This study is important because it tell us how the ants are affecting the ghost crab populations and the ecosystem in general. This study can be used in future research to determine conservation techniques in order to control invasive ant populations, like the YCA.

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