I’ve just started a project in collaboration with Daniel Kronauer, Jack Longino, and Andy Suarez to infer the phylogeny of species in the Neotropical ponerine genus Simopelta. If you happen to have any DNA-quality specimens of these unusual ants in your keep, we’d greatly appreciate a donation.
Why Simopelta? These insects are among the “other” army ants, the barely-known lineages that have also evolved the specialized nomadic lifestyle that characterizes the well-known, photogenic, and oft-televised ecitonine and doryline army ants. Yet Simopelta are ponerines, a completely different subfamily of ants. Because they acquired their traits independently, Simopelta will add power to statistical tests of various hypotheses about how army ants came to be. That, and they’re really interesting critters in their own right.
Ideally, specimens will have been collected into strong (>90%) ethanol and stored in a cool place, but these ants are rare enough that we’ll take whatever we can get. Send to:
Department of Entomology
320 Morrill Hall
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
505 S Goodwin Ave
Urbana, IL 61801 USA