I recently heard about an app in development and I reached out to the creators to ask if I could write about it. I genuinely love this app idea and am writing this out of my own volition. I contacted them with some questions and I used this information to write this post. Enjoy!
So far I have written about several things we know about ants. However, there is so much we still don’t know. In an earlier post I wrote about how nuptial flights occur after heavy rain. This is true but, as I am sure you were expecting, the full story is much more complex. The honest answer is that we don’t fully understand how ants coordinate their flights or what environmental factors they rely on.
As we currently understand it, ants use a whole host of environmental changes to coordinate their flights. We know that pressure, precipitation, humidity air temperature and soil temperature are strongly linked with these flights but we simply do not have enough data. The good news is that you can help!
A team out of the Abouheif Lab at McGill University, Canada, has started a frankly brilliant programme. They have made an app where members of the public can download the app and submit information about nuptial flights in their area. The app is called AntNupTracker and is currently available on IOS with an Android version on the way! They have told me that the app “…Has two major goals. The first is to facilitate studies of the links between weather and the timing of ant nuptial flights. The second is to provide better knowledge of the timing of ant nuptial flights so that collectors can gather ants in a manner that is less disruptive to existing habitats.” Conservation and information is the goal and you can all help. Citizen science gives people the opportunity to contribute to science without any fancy (and expensive. So expensive) degrees. And you can write about ant flights, anywhere in the world!
Even of you are unsure about the species of ant you have seen flying you can still upload where your submission will be verified by an expert. You can state that you are not 100% sure and you can even upload a picture to help! Your data will eventually be used in science! No matter who you are, you can contribute to the global understanding of ants, and that’s pretty neat.
This data will be available for people who are looking to keep certain species in captivity. Keeping ants as ‘pets’ is a topic I will be covering soon. So those that thing it is very weird, I highly recommend you read that post when it becomes live. I personally hope it will let me know where I can find some Lasius fuliginosus queens as they are one of my favourite species we have here in the UK.
My favourite part about this is that the data is fully free and open for anyone to see and use! I can tell you that this is huge! Science cannot be done without data. So often, scientists collect their data and hide it from the world. Open access data is the biggest contributor to science in my opinion and citizen science is vital for large scale science projects. Feel free to share your opinions in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
Thank you for reading, I know this is a bit different to my usual posts but it is just as important if you ask me. I hope you find it interesting and useful! Thanks again,
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