A Different Kind of “Fire” Ant

Are any of you signed up for the 2011 Ant Course? It is going to be held at the American Museum of Natural History’s Southwestern Research Station near Portal, Arizona this year, or at least it was supposed to be. You see, there is a big fire burning in southeastern Arizona right now. They had to evacuate the station over the weekend.

Here’s a blurb from ABC15 News.

Makes me wonder if the ant course is going to be looking at the effects of forest fires on ants this year. I sure hope not.

Photograph from Public Domain Pictures by Kim Newberg

4 Replies to “A Different Kind of “Fire” Ant”

  1. Like much of North America, the US Southwest / Mexican Northwest was subject to relatively frequent, landscape-scale fires prior to last few decades, so it is unlikely any permanent harm will be done to the ecosystem. I see two real problems:
    — Decades of fire suppression (stemming from a production forestry mentality, and lack of understnading of fire as a natural process with benefits as an “intermediate disturbance”) have created tremendous fuel loads, leading to more catastrophic fires.
    — The SWBRS (and other properties) in the area may be damaged, which would be far more harmful to Ant Course than anything a fire in the natural areas surrounding itcould ever be.

  2. I understand what you are saying. We also have some introduced grasses that dry out, serve as fuel, and cause the fires to burn hotter than in the past.

    Have you heard whether the station was spared?

  3. I spoke to folks at the station a few days back. Fire is in control at the Station end of the burn area, and controlled burns outward from the station have removed a lot of the fuel, greatly reducing the near-future likelihood of fire there.

  4. Glad to hear it. he bigger fire up north has knocked them out of the news cycle.

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