Every April the Biology department at the University of Oklahoma hands out awards to graduate students for either teaching or research they have done during the last scholastic year. This year our paper in Ecology, “From cryptic herbivore to predator: stable isotopes reveal consistent variability in trophic levels in an ant population” was awarded the best research paper by a graduate student. I feel incredibly honored to receive such an award and hope to continue my work on stable isotopes and ants for many years to come.
In the next couple of weeks, I will be sending my second dissertation chapter “Thermal and nutritional niche partitioning promotes species coexistence in an invaded ant assemblage” to my committee with the goal of submitting it sometime in late summer/fall 2017. The ideas for this project were originally conceived during my first field season while watching fire ants forage at different times of the day. I think this paper will be a really nice contribution that takes a unique look at how traits like thermal tolerance, diet, and size combine to shape when species forage and compete for resources.