Last year, a new field course on ants launched at the Southwestern Research Station, in Portal, AZ, USA called Ants of the Southwest. It got rave reviews, and it’s happening again. Are you interested in going?
The course is designed to provide a generalized hands-on approach to the pragmatics about research with ants. How do you observe and manipulate behavior in the field and in the lab? What kinds of ecological experiments are possible, and how do you do them? How do you collect, identify and maintain a collection of ants? How do you keep colonies in the lab?
There is a diverse set of experienced and talented instructors (in addition, I’ll be there for much of the time).
Don’t mistake this course with the long-running and superb Ant Course run by Brian Fisher from the California Academy of Sciences, which focuses on identification, taxonomy, systematics and building a collection. The Ants of the SW course is a complement to the Ant Course as a different introduction to ant biology, emphasizing ecology and behavior. It’s targeted towards graduate students, but is accessible to folks with other levels of experience.
If you are thinking about using ants as a model system but don’t have years of experience with them, this course would be a great place to figure how to do things, what works and what doesn’t, and will give you the chance to spend time in a community of myrmecologists in a hotbed of ant diversity.
If you have any questions about the course, you can contact me or leave a comments, and of course you can follow the link to the course page and contact the station. I hope to see some of y’all in July!