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Ants of the William L. Giles Bur Oak Preserve, Oktibbeha County, Mississippi

JoVonn G. Hill

Uploaded on 17 December 2013

“We went out to the South Farm one Sunday and we were walking around and came upon this grove of beautiful bur oak trees.”  Quote from W. L. Giles in an interview with Allen Snow available online:

The William L. Giles Bur Oak Preserve, consists of two small patches of forest on the Mississippi State University campus at the H. H. Leveck Animal Research Center (South Farm) (Figure 1.).  Both units are on west facing slopes that terminate in the flood plain of Catalpa Creek.  Presently the forest cover of the preserves changes along with the slope going from an oak-hickory dominated forest progressing downslope to an ash/hackberry association, with bur oaks scattered throughout.

William L. Giles Bur Oak Preserve

The preserve was established in May 1968 to honor then MSU President Dr. William L. Giles, who was credited with first documenting bur oaks (Quercus macrocarpa) in Mississippi, which are considered rare in the southeastern United States.  In recent years, the preserve was largely forgotten and left unattended.  The fencing was removed form east side of the north unit to allow cattle to shelter under the trees, while the fencing remained intact around the south unit.  The presence/absence of fencing has resulting in the two units having very conditions.  The north unit, which cattle have access to, still largely has a grove like appearance, but has little leaf litter or vegetative ground cover, whereas the south unit became inundated with Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense), and has a well developed leaf litter layer.

In recent years, there has been an effort to resurrect the preserve and develop it into a research/teaching tool.  In the summer of 2013, permanent vegetation plots (20 x20m) were established in the preserve and a complete inventory of the woody (non-privet) vegetation was completed.  Surveys to document the ant fauna of the south unit of the preserve began during the fall of 2013, and will expand to include both units in 2014.  Below is a current listing of the ants collected in the each unit of the preserve, which will serve as baseline data for future ecological and restoration activities conducted within the preserve.

At present 30 species of ants have been collected in the south unit of the preserve.  All of the ant species collected thus far are typical denziens of forested habitats throughout Mississippi.   Based on current results the genus Strumigenys  is the most diverse (6 spp.), followed by  Camponotus (4 spp.), and then Aphaenogaster (3 spp.). 


List of ant species collected in the south unit of the W. L. Giles Bur Oak Preserve (arranged alphabetically by genus)

Aphaenogaster carolinensis (Wheeler)
Aphaenogaster fulva Roger
Aphaenogaster lamellidens Mayr
Camponotus chromaiodes Bolton
Camponotus decipiens Emery
Camponotus pennsylvanicus (DeGeer)
Camponotus snellingi Bolton 
Crematogaster ashmeadi Mayr
Crematogaster lineolata
Hypoponera opacior (Forel)
Lasius alienus (Foerster)
Myrmecina americana Emery
Nylanderia faisonensis (Forel)
Nylanderia vividula (Nylander)
Pheidole dentigula Smith
Ponera pennsylvanica Buckley
Prenolepis imparis (Say)
Proceratium pergandei (Emery)
Solenopsis invicta X richteri
Solenopsis sp. cf. molesta (Say)
Strumigenys clypeata 
Strumigenys louisianae Roger
Strumigenys ohioensis Kennedy & Schramm
Strumigenys ornata Mayr
Strumigenys pulchella Emery
Strumigenys rostrata Emery
Temnothorax curvispinosus Mayr
Temnothorax pergandei
Temnothorax schaumii
Trachymyrmex septentrionalis (McCook)