Pest Management Solutions
Texas Tech University

Studies of the Relationship Between Red Imported Fire Ants and Habitat Managed White Tail Deer

Principal Investigator:
Mark C. Wallace
Dept. of Range, Wildlife, and Fisheries Management
Box 42125
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, TX 79409-2125
Phone: 806/742-1983
Fax: 806/742-2280

Funding Amount/2Years: $80,000

Relevance/Implication of Project:
A major goal of the Texas Imported Fire Ant Research and Management Plan is to develop methods to reduce red imported fire ant (RIFA) impacts on wildlife. Current methods available to improve habitat for white-tailed deer may increase RIFA density in wildlife habitat. We are looking at direct and indirect effects of RIFA on white-tailed deer to see if RIFA cause increased mortality or increased risk of predation to deer. We are also studying RIFA numbers in relation to habitat improvement on Texas rangelands. Determining if land management practices intended to improve habitat for deer increase RIFA and whether RIFA infestations affect white-tailed deer populations will provide necessary information for decisions land managers must make.

Summary of Work to be Done:
Our research indicated that newborn fawns were not killed by RIFA but that RIFA infestations may increase fawn movements during hiding periods increasing their risk of predation. Our current work will examine whether habitat manipulations (e.g., large scale brush control by root plowing, shredding, and other mechanical means) increase RIFA abundance or distribution. We are censusing RIFA in habitats before and after brush control treatments are applied, and also at intervals after treatments that were applied at known times. We will radio-track adult deer to determine movement patterns and habitat use before and after RIFA population reductions to determine whether RIFA affect white-tailed deer use of habitats.