NEON ANTS Fieldwork Finale

Neon_Ants_Final

Fieldwork for NEON ants is now complete. From Oregon to Southern California across to Florida and then up to Massachusetts—35 sites were resampled in deserts, grasslands, and forests. There is a hell of a lot of data from this project and I am very grateful that I was able to partake in part of it.

It is funny. I pulled out my application letter to the University of Oklahoma upon arriving home just last week. And in it, I wrote about wanting to understand where species lives, and why they lived there (a pretty common question among biologists). After a couple of years in grad school, I feel that I have finally been able to start to answer those questions. Is it functional trait differences? Perhaps spatial distributions are phylogenetically conserved? Is it bottom-up driven? Or perhaps top-down controlled? The next goal will be to answer some of these questions as I set out to identify all the specimens from this year…..Then the fun part. Analyzing and writing galore in what I hope will result in a number of interesting and exciting publications that provide insight into how ant assemblages have changed over the last 20 years.

Locally, I will be working with Diane more on our citizen science project as we undertake round 2 in Lawton, Oklahoma. In addition to submitting my next dissertation chapter this semester (more about this later but it covers species interactions between red imported fire ants and native ant species), I hope to also add to the Ants of Oklahoma page by compiling all of the literature sources that I can find on Ant distributions throughout the state. This work has already been in progress for a while but should be complete in the next month or so. Check back soon for more information.

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