Teachers’ Lounge

Return of the Bay Area Ant Survey!

by megan on Feb. 19th, 2009 No Comments
Ant collection

Specimens received from citizen scientists! The collection grows…

Photo credit: Kelly Herbinson

Our beloved Citizen Science project is back in action!

The Bay Area Ant Survey is designed to give the public a chance to participate in Academy research by helping us obtain baseline data for ants living in local counties.

Major goals include:

• Documenting the ant diversity of the Bay Area

• Mapping the spread of invasive ants, including the problematic Argentine ant

• Creating a permanent collection of specimens for scientific research and teaching

• Allowing the community to experience scientific research firsthand

How does it work?
Citizens can participate by requesting an ant collecting kit from the Naturalist Center inside the California Academy of Sciences. Collecting kits include a data sheet, forceps, petri dish and a small vial filled with ethanol. All you have to do is collect ants, and send your ant-filled vial and corresponding data sheet back to the Naturalist Center. All specimens will be identified and databased by an Academy entomologist. Results are then uploaded to AntWeb where the location and identification of the ants are made public. Your contribution becomes a part of the scientific record!

What have we found?
So far the Bay Area Ant Survey has been a huge success! Over 800 citizen scientists have participated, finding a total of 34 different species. Better yet, twelve of these discoveries were new county records!

Can entire classrooms participate?
Of course! In fact, students have discovered ant species in their schoolyard that were never before documented as inhabiting our state. A more advanced version of the collecting kit is available especially for educators. Our Ant Collecting Classroom Kit includes all the resources you need to participate in the Bay Area Ant Survey as a class: a dissecting microscope, forceps, petri dishes, ethanol-filled vials, pooters, a hand lens, a dichotomous key to the ants of the Bay Area, and data sheets. To borrow this resource, a teacher must attend, or have attended in the past, the Ants in Your School Yard teacher workshop, which is next offered on April 9, 2009. Call 800.794.7576 (press 2, then 1) to register!
Argentine ant lateral view

The Argentine ant, though lovely in profile, has limited the distribution and abundance of native ant species. How might this affect the horned lizards of California?

Photo credit: AntWeb

What if I would rather use the basic kit for individuals?
Next time you visit the Academy, whether on a field trip, for a workshop, or with your family, stop by the Naturalist Center to pick up an ant collecting kit.

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