Presentation Title

Pass the Salt? Examining the Effects of Sodium on Foraging Activity Among Vermont’s Ant Communities

Presenter's Name(s)

Laura K. PinoverFollow

Project Collaborators

Nathan Sanders (Collaborating Advisor), Gordon Coates (Collaborating Undergraduate Student)

Abstract

Globally, sodium is introduced into ecosystems through geological processes and anthropogenic additions. Sodium is a key nutrient that all animals rely on from their food source. Increased sodium levels in ecosystems can increase activity of sodium-limited animals in local communities, especially as temperature increases. Animals are also co-limited by other nutrients, such as carbohydrates. My study addressed whether sodium and carbohydrate availability and temperature interact to impact foraging activity in ant communities among some of the University of Vermont’s Natural Areas. Across all sites, I found that ant foraging activity was 38.5% higher at resources spiked with sodium and carbohydrates. In addition, foraging activity was positively associated with ground temperature. However, there was no interaction between sodium and carbohydrate availability and temperature. Taken together, these results indicate that paired with carbohydrates, sodium may increase foraging activities.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Nathan Sanders

Secondary Mentor NetID

Aclassen

Secondary Mentor Name

Aimée Classen

Graduate Student Mentors

Kenna Rewcastle

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

Rubenstein School of Environmental and Natural Resources

Program/Major

Environmental Studies

Primary Research Category

Food & Environment Studies

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Pass the Salt? Examining the Effects of Sodium on Foraging Activity Among Vermont’s Ant Communities

Globally, sodium is introduced into ecosystems through geological processes and anthropogenic additions. Sodium is a key nutrient that all animals rely on from their food source. Increased sodium levels in ecosystems can increase activity of sodium-limited animals in local communities, especially as temperature increases. Animals are also co-limited by other nutrients, such as carbohydrates. My study addressed whether sodium and carbohydrate availability and temperature interact to impact foraging activity in ant communities among some of the University of Vermont’s Natural Areas. Across all sites, I found that ant foraging activity was 38.5% higher at resources spiked with sodium and carbohydrates. In addition, foraging activity was positively associated with ground temperature. However, there was no interaction between sodium and carbohydrate availability and temperature. Taken together, these results indicate that paired with carbohydrates, sodium may increase foraging activities.