Ants of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (2015)

Bison WMWR

Last weekend marked the final sampling period for a project that Diane and I have been working on throughout the summer. We were fortunate enough to have been granted a permit to set out pitfall traps and collect leaf litter in order to catalogue ants from the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (WMWR). What an amazing place! The refuge is one of the best kept areas in Oklahoma, and probably in the entire United States. Bison, turkeys, Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, and a whole lot of ants. Previously compiled records from the last 100 years put the species count at 38 for the county where the refuge resides. From a quick scan of our samples I would say we have at least that number and probably between 5-10 new species including two new genera. In the future we will be pinning, identifying, and photographing all of our collected species to create a digital checklist and guide to the Ants of the WMWR!

Ant Ecology at the University of Oklahoma Biological Station (UOBS)

 

Ant SamplingLabor day weekend brought about an interesting opportunity. Jelena Bujan, ant lover and fellow lab mate in Mike Kaspari’s lab, brought forth an idea about measuring the thermal performance of ants in Oklahoma. We jotted down a rough sketch for the project and then headed to the University of Oklahoma Biological Station (UOBS). Having been stationed there all summer, I knew we could collect a plethora of species as long as they didn’t all drown in the flood (and only a few did). 5 days later, we have data on 20 species across 5 subfamilies including terrestrial and arboreal ants! I am exhausted both mentally and physically but can’t wait to head back to the station for more ant centric projects!

Ant Course 2015 – Portal, Arizona

 

11907226_1689816184580786_5032353255362940069_nAhhh Ant Course. I have wanted to attend this amazing opportunity since first hearing about it in 2011. This year was my first chance and all I can say is that it was absolutely amazing. 30 students from around the world and about 15 professors created an atmosphere that I have never, and may never get to experience again. I collected at least 70 species across 28 genera in a 9 day span and the Southwestern Research Station in Portal was amazing as advertised. I cannot say enough about Brian Fisher and the work he puts into making sure this event occurs each year. Just unbelievable. The faculty he brings together are some of the best in the world and span the fields of behavior, ecology, systematics, and taxonomy. On a personal note, I finally observed trap jaw ants in the wild (which has been a goal of mine for almost 5 years)!

Additionally, there should be some exciting news in the next month about two scientific notes that have been accepted for publication detailing new subfamily and genus distribution records for Oklahoma.

Summer Research 2015 – University of Oklahoma Biological Station and Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

Fire Ants

Check out my research on ants, size, and stable isotopes (CLICK ME)!

Besides working on understanding how size affects an ant’s stable isotope signature, I have also been collecting, identifying, and creating species lists of ants at the University of Oklahoma Biological Station and the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. So far we have found new records at the species, genus, and subfamily level for the state of Oklahoma. While historically ignored by myrmecologists, Oklahoma is a conglomeration of different habitat types across a precipitation gradient that creates ample opportunities to collect both temperate and subtropical species. Keep checking back for news about our findings!