Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Riffell, Sam

Committee Member

Reed, Jack

Committee Member

Burger Jr., Wes L.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Wildlife and Fisheries Science

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Forest Resources


Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture


Imported fire ants are invasive and cause injury to people, crops, livestock and wildlife. Disturbance may increase abundance and activity of fire ants. However, native grass field buffers established for grassland birds require periodic disturbance. I experimentally tested if fire ant mound density and foraging activity changed after burning and disking in native grass buffers and examined relationships among fire ants, vegetation, and grassland bird and butterfly metrics in undisturbed buffers. In 2008, disking increased mound density and foraging activity, but burning did not. In 2009, disking had no effect, but effects of disking the previous season persisted. Fire ant metrics were not related generally to bird or butterfly metrics. Mound density and foraging activity were related negatively to grass cover and related positively to forbs. Burning had less influence on abundance and activity of fire ants, and may better conserve grassland habitats in areas with fire ants.