It occurs to me that I am not doing a good job of living up to my blog mission statement. More specifically, I have not been "keeping track (for my own benefit) of my daily progress in the identification of the ant fauna of Tiputini Biodiversity Station in Ecuador, the analysis of that data, and the pursuit of my PhD." To remedy that situation, I shall tell you what I am doing right now.
Right now I am working on a paper comparing ant diversity in primary vs. secondary forest. This is from a small pilot study Amy Mertl and I did in 2002. It was our first visit to Tiputini, our first field season, and our first attempt at identifying ants. We were not very good. We would sit together in the lab, one of us with a key and the other at the microscope. We had never heard of pinning so we just looked at them in alcohol. We had never heard of Bolton, so we used the key in The Ants. One of us would read through the key couplet by couplet and the other one would say things like, "I guess the first one" or "what the hell does that mean?" or "is there a third option?" or "why don't you take a look." And no one was around to tell us if we got anything right (or wrong). It's a miracle we got anything right at all. Of course, the beauty of keeping your ants in alcohol is that you can go back and re-identify them. :)
Interested in how biodiversity is affected when primary forest is cut down and then allowed to regrow? There is an interesting article in a recent issue of Science on rainforest biodiversity in recovering forests. Check it out here.