Friday, May 22, 2009

Multiple Choice question

Which of the following headlines are real (real as in they are the titles of serious news stories)

  1. Ants have magnets in their antennae
  2. Ants Demand 23.9-Hour Workday
  3. Brain-Controlling Flies to Triumph Over Alien Ants?
  4. Magneto-ants pump iron
  5. Ant Farm Teaches Children About Toil, Death
  6. FOR KIDS: Night of the living ants
  7. Children bitten by ants, mother arrested
  8. Zombie ants walk the earth in East Texas
  9. Study Shows Ants Can Smell Their Fallen Comrades
  10. Latest pest-control attempt: Turn fire ants into zombies

Answer: all of them except for #2 and #5

Thursday, May 14, 2009

So, you want to be a citizen scientist?

Photo: Christmas Bird Count (Pool) Flickr group

I am slowly trying to get myself back into the blogging swing of things. Here is a CNN article from a couple of weeks ago that caught my eye. I love the idea of citizen scientists:

(CNN) -- As a hobby, Suzie Jirachareonkul, a teacher and mother of two, spends many of her nights searching for endangered toads on the country roads near her home outside Cape Town, South Africa.

She often finds them flattened on the street.

"They're so beautiful and it's just really hard to live with, especially when you're living on the road right here," the 33-year-old said of the toad deaths. "So we started doing something about it. We started saving them off the road in the middle of the rain."

When a scientist caught onto her efforts, Jirachareonkul and a friend assembled about 20 volunteers -- a group she calls the "Toad NUTS" -- to collect data on the endangered Western Leopard Toad.

The information they collect is being used in scientific research.

Read more here

Some other interesting sites about citizen science:

Friday, May 08, 2009

Look! A Paper!

Diversity of ground-dwelling ants in primary and secondary forests in Amazonian Ecuador

Kari T. Ryder Wilkie, Amy L. Mertl & James F.A. Traniello

Abstract: An inventory of the ground-dwelling ant faunas of primary and secondary forests at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in Amazonian Ecuador revealed a total of 101 ant species in 32 genera. Eighty species were collected from the primary forest, while 65 species were collected from the secondary forest. Species overlap between the two sites was low (42.6%) and the composition was significantly different (p<0.0001). Actual species richness was estimated to be 126 species for primary forest and 110 for secondary forest. The most species-rich genus in both habitats was Pheidole (21 species), which was also the most widespread genus, occurring in 38 of 40 collection sites. In the primary forest, in addition to Pheidole (18 species), the most species-rich genera were Crematogaster (8 species), and Pachycondyla (7 species), whereas Pheidole (17 species), Camponotus (5 species), and Pachycondyla (5 species) were the most species-rich genera in the secondary forest. These results are consistent with past studies showing that the number of ant species in secondary forest increases with time from disturbance and may approach that of primary forest within several decades, but that species composition may take significantly longer to resemble that of the original ant assemblage. The prevalence of different ant functional groups in the two habitats is discussed and the results compared to similar studies in Australia and North America.

Ryder Wilkie KT, Mertl AL, Traniello JFA. 2009. Diversity of ground-dwelling ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in primary and secondary forests in Amazonian Ecuador. Myrmecological News 12: 139-147 published Online Earlier 20 April 2009

UPDATE: printable version