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.