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Introduction to Myrmecology, The Study of Ants.

Q. Why study ants?
A. Myrmecologists are people who study ants and we all study ants for different reasons. Some myrmecologists study ants because ants live in social groups and they care for each other --like humans. Scientists interested in ant behavior and social interactions may ask scientific questions like, “What does this or that ant species eat”? And, “Where do they find their food?” Other myrmecologists study ants because they are important for plants. Some ants pollinate plants, which is necessary for plants to produce fruits. Ants may change where a plant will grow by collecting seeds, eating the outside covering of seeds, then discarding uneaten and perfectly good seeds in a new place. When ants dig their nests in the ground, they loosen the soil, which helps plants to grow. Can you think of a scientific question about ants and plants?

By finding out what ants do and where they live, we can learn about how ants interact with their environment. Ecology is the study of how animals interact with plants, animals, and non-living elements such as dirt, air, and water. I am interested in ant ecology --how ants interact with their environment. I study ants because I love watching them interact and I love being outdoors. When I was your age, I enjoyed reading about and observing many different animals, but I chose to study ants now that I am an adult because I can always find lots of different ants and I always learn something new every time I watch them. With ants, I don’t have to go anywhere except just outside my door to study nature! We all live on Earth, breathe the same air and so life surrounds all of us. Ants are everywhere and remind me, even when I am in the middle of a city, that I am still part of the natural world.

We may think we live in a world dominated by humans but there are actually more individual ants in the world than humans! Humans are one species but there are more than 14,000 different species of ants, and if you could catch all the ants in the world and weigh them, they would weigh more than all the mammals in all the forests!

Last modified: Saturday, 12 January 2013, 10:43 AM