(Originally posted on our 2012 Field Blog — by Jill Newman)
One really neat opportunity that I have while in Alabama is that I get to conduct an independent research project. After brainstorming with Dr. Langkilde and Chris, I will be working on a project involving fire ant predation on eastern fence lizard eggs. Here is a brief overview of my independent research project:
For one part of this experiment, we did a fire ant capture (Chris will be writing a future blog post on this). We kept these fire ants in captivity without food for a few days so we knew that they were hungry. One question that we wanted to answer was that we wanted to see if fire ants would be able to eat a fresh fence lizard egg and/or an older fence lizard egg. In these confined conditions (see Chris’s post), they were able to penetrate through both types of eggs.
For the main part of the experiment, I will be seeking out 10 different fire ant mounds around the Pond House/Solon Dixon campus. I’ll be testing out four different treatments to observe fire ant predation habits. Should be interesting! More to come!
Not related to the project, but still herp-related, I saw my first eastern diamondback rattlesnake! I was returning fence lizards at Geneva State Forest and pulled over on the side of the road when I saw a 5-6 foot snake trying to cross the road on my way back to the Pond House. I ran out of the car to see what it was (forgetting my camera in the car and having to run back for it). Sorry the picture is so bad. What an amazing herp!