Tomorrow I leave for three ant-filled weeks in northern Argentina. Don’t despair, though, the Myrmecos Blog will not go into remission. Scott Powell will be taking the reins for the rest of the month, and Eli Sarnat will drop in once or twice to regale us with shocking-but-true ant adventures from the South Pacific. I’ve also pre-scheduled a few Friday Beetles and Sunday Movies.
We’ve got several goals for the expedition. First, Jo-anne and I are trying to get a better sense of the biology of the closest relatives of the Argentine ant Linepithema humile. While the Argentine ant itself is quite well studied, the ecology and behavior of its sibling species are almost entirely unknown. We’ll be collecting and making observations about the territoriality, genetics, and nesting biology of several related species in the northwestern mountains. Second, Andy Suarez and I have a small project to track down the source population of the tramp species Pheidole obscurithorax, so I’m gathering additional samples for genetic comparisons between the native and introduced ranges. Finally, we’ll be visiting an ant lab at the Ciudad Universitaria in Buenos Aires, getting some pointers from local myrmecologists on conducting field work in their country as well as helping them out with a few specimen identifications.
Time and internet access permitting, I might make a few posts from the road. In any case, I hope you all have a great month.