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"Warm ants"

Wednesday, August 3, 2011, by Natashia, Michael, and Kevin
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The Warm Ants team is interested in examining the effects of climate change on ecosystem services, species interactions, and biodiversity. We are continuing monitoring of the open top heated chambers at the long term Warm Ants plot through monthly pitfall trapping, winkler sampling, vegetation surveys, and artificial nest investigation. Check out a video we made describing the experimental design of the heated chambers!

Michael is studying the effects of climate change on ant-aphid mutualisms. He wants to see how species interactions will change under artificially warmed conditions. The Warm Ants team dug up and transplanted 90 aspen trees and collected tens of thousands of aphids to get this project off the ground. Now that the set-up has all been completed, daily work of the Warm Aphids project includes counting aphids, observing ants, and measuring plant stress on the aspen trees.Kevin is researching ant competition and its effect on biodiversity and community composition. We used tuna as a bait to quantify the level of competition in open and forest habitats to examine if it is a potential driver of local biodiversity. We also hand sampled plots to examine nest density. Fun activities of this project included overnight camping for nest colony sampling, snacking on lichen and wild blueberries during fieldwork, and travels to Plymouth, MA.

Natashia has designed a microcosm experiment testing the effects of warming on various ecosystem services provided by ants. Team Warm Ants spent early mornings digging for ant colonies in Montague, MA. For more fun details about daily summer life at Harvard Forest, check out her blog.


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