Project Director

Beasley, DeAnna E.

Department Examiner

Chatzimanolis, Stylianos; Aborn, David


Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


The success of certain ant species in urban areas is largely unknown. Available food in the environment could affect the composition of ants in urban areas due to a possible relationship between ant physiology and diet. I tested the oil preference of ants as a function of available arthropod prey in urban environments. I hypothesized that as arthropod diversity decreased, ant abundance at oil baits would decrease. Oil is an important nutrient that can affect ant body functions and activities. Ant foraging activities have been found to be affected by lipid depletion. A food source where ants can obtain oil in an urban environment is arthropod prey. However, their diversity in urban areas can be low due to high impervious surfaces and low plant diversity. Decrease in available arthropods could lead to an oil scarcity for ants, who need to fulfill their lipid requirements. To balance their nutrients ants will forage for a scarce nutrient the colony needs. In my research baits of sugar, water, and different concentrations of oil were chosen at random and deployed throughout Chattanooga, TN. The oil baits consisted of either 0.1%, 0.5%, or 1%. The habitats the baits were deployed in were neighborhoods, parks, and street medians during the months of August and September. Pitfall traps were also setup to measure available arthropod prey. A linear regression was used to view ant abundance against arthropod diversity, temperature, and soil moisture. Results showed that in most oil bait concentrations, there was a downwards trend in ant abundance as arthropod diversity increased. This demonstrates a weak relationship between oil preference of ants in regard to arthropod diversity. While my hypothesis was not supported, further research can still be done on lipids role in ant adaptability.


I wish to thank Dr. Beasley for her guidance and providing me with the opportunity to work with her. I would like to thank Dr. Aborn and Dr. Chatzimanolis for being part of my committee. I also want to thank the Integrative lab members who helped me with this research: Rosa Cantu, Lily Fletcher, Taylor Perry, Jon Darling, Lucas Mitchell, and Hannah Hightower. Finally, I wish to thank the Honors College for their support and helping students go beyond their expectations.


B. A.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Arts.




Ants -- Ecology; Environmental indicators


Ants; Urban; Oil; Lipids; Diet preference; Arthropod diversity



Document Type



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Biology Commons