Wednesday, August 09, 2006


In an earlier post I talked about the IBISCA project. What struck me most was the incredibly unequal distribution of resources devoted to the different layers of the rainforest. IBISCA stands for Investigating the BIodiversity of Soil and Canopy Arthropods, which would seem to indicate that they were equally as interested in collecting soil ants as canopy ants. And they were putting immense resources into collecting the canopy ants -- helium balloons and canopy rafts and giant cranes, for example. But as far as I could tell the only way they were collecting soil ants was pitfalls and winklers, which mostly just collect leaf litter ants. Maybe that's what they meant by soil ants -- they just thought IBISCA sounded better than IBILLCA. Anyway, at the IUSSI conference Maurice Leponce was there to talk about ants and their role in international environmental projects, and he presented some results from the IBISCA project. And I was able to ask him why there was such an unequal distribution of resources. At least that was what I was trying to ask. It may have ended up sounding like an advertisement for my subterranean probe, which it really wasn't. I just wanted to point out the inequality. Mostly I think he just said that they didn't have any good methods for the soil ants, so they didn't do them. Which of course makes sense and is perfectly reasonable, but I still maintain that people just aren't putting the effort or the money or the resources into looking for better methods. I mean, I can't even imagine the money and effort that must have gone into bringing a giant crane into the middle of the rainforest. People have even trained monkeys to collect for them in the canopy. But the best we can do with soil ants is dig up the dirt? It seems a little pathetic.

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