Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


This project sought to understand how prescribed burning and microhabitat type impacts Kansas ant functional groups and also whether prescribed burning in different microhabitat types altered the burn’s impact on those functional groups. The Dr. Howard Reynolds Nature Trail, located in Hays, Kansas, was burned in the spring of 2019. The area consists of 2 distinct habitat types: a dry, mixed-grass dominated uphill area and a moist, densely vegetated downhill area. Pitfall trapping was conducted during the summers of the year prior to the burn (2018) and the year following the burn (2019). 15 pitfall traps were spread across each microhabitat during each year. Ants collected were categorized into functional groups, which allowed a comparison of ants with certain ecologies in response to the treatments. It was found that prescribed burning did not significantly impact the population size or richness of any of the ant functional groups found in this project. What played more of a role in their population dynamics were the conditions of the habitat that ants were collected from, such as the environmental stress factors and the presence of ant competitors in each microhabitat type. The uphill area, which was an open area with less environmental stress in the form of vegetative shade, favored highly competitive functional groups. The downhill area, which had higher environmental stress, favored the stress-tolerant and hypogaeic functional groups.


Dr. Richard Packauskas

Date of Award

Fall 2020

Document Type



© The Author(s)


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