Honey bees and ants belong to the same order, Hymenoptera, and occasionally you see them together.
Such was the case today in the Storer Garden, UC Davis Aboretum, as the closely related honey bees and ants foraged in the red-hot poker (Kniphofia galpinii or "Christmas cheer").
These ants? Argentine ants (Linepithema humile). "The Argentine ant is a non-native and a notorious pest," says UC Davis ant specialist Phil Ward, professor of entomology.
The honey bee (Apis mellifera) is also a non-native (it came over with the European colonists in the 1600s), but oh, what a non-native. We're so accustomed to it being a beneficial insect that we consider it a native.
Hymenoptera ("membrane wing") originated in the Triassic period, a geologic period that existed some 251 to 199 million years ago.
And today in a tiny thimble of time, they shared a red hot poker.
If you're accustomed to seeing ants crawl, wait a minute...some can actually jump.
Ants? Jump? Like leaping lizards?
Harpegnathos saltator, aka Jerdon's jumping ant, a species found in India, can indeed jump. It can leap a distance of about 10 centimeters (about 3.9 inches). It does this to catch prey and to escape sticky situations.
Christian Peeters, director of the Laboratoire d’Ecologie, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, will talk about Jerdon's jumping ant when he discusses his research at a noon lecture on Wednesday, April 15 in 122 Briggs Hall, University of California, Davis. His topic is “Recurrent Selection Against Winged Queens in Ants, and Shifts in Life History Traits.”
This exquisite photo (below) of Jerdon's jumping ant is the work of entomologist-insect photographer Alex Wild, who received his Ph.D. from UC Davis (his major professor was Phil Ward). Wild is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois. You'll want to visit his Web sites often to view his amazing work. One site is at http://www.myrmecos.net and the other at http://www.alexanderwild.com.
Today we salute Andrea Lucky.
To be perfectly frank, anyone who takes a class from her is a lucky person indeed.
For excellence in teaching in the lab, field and classroom, UC Davis entomology doctoral candidate Andrea Lucky has won a 2009 UC Davis Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award.
Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef will present the award--one of 12--at a ceremony on Monday, April 6 in the Buehler Alumni and Visitors' Center.
Her major professor, Phil Ward, who nominated her for the award, praised her “stellar teaching assistance” and her “exceptional commitment to science teaching and outreach in general.”
Lucky, who joined the Ward lab four years ago, served as his teaching assistant in a five-week field taxonomy and ecology course last summer at the Sagehen Creek Field Station, northern Sierra Nevada. The course, Entomology 109 and also known as "Bug Boot Camp," introduces students to the diversity of California insects in natural habitats.
Lucky interacted with the students 12 to 14 hours a day, from dawn at the breakfast table to late at night in the lab, six days a week, Ward said. “Entomology 109 is a demanding course for both students and teachers, yet Andrea was unfailingly upbeat, engaging and responsive to students. She was willing to assist in the lab, the field and even the kitchen when the situation demanded.”
Kitchen, too! Now, that's dedication!
“Andrea’s enthusiasm for the subject and her knowledge of the subject matter are a rare combination,” Ward said. “She is dedicated to encouraging student participation and attentive to individual student learning styles, and as a result she is very effective in establishing a creative, hands-on, interactive learning environment. She is notable for her ability to engage students while encouraging a high level of intellectual rigor.”
Lucky uses novel, creative techniques to help students learn. She designed a freshman seminar course on “Insects and Media” and taught it for four years. The seminar uses science, and especially insects, as portrayed by modern media as the basis for discussions about the facts behind the fiction and how audiences distinguish information vs. entertainment.
A native of Chicago, Andrea Lucky grew up in Cincinnati, graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and then spent two years as a Fulbright scholar studying insects in Ecuador.
We're often asked "Where are the women in science who are making a difference?" Well, one of them is right here at the University of California, Davis.
Branstetter delivered an illustrated presentation on “Phylogeny and Biography of the Ant Genus Stenamma: Uncovering the Evolutionary Origins of Mesoamerican Taxa.” Stenamma is a little studied genus of leaf litter ants.
He competed in the Revisions and Evolution Section, moderated by scientists from Laurentian University, Ontario, Canada, and the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C. Following his presentation, judges and spectators asked questions, an integral part of the competition.
Fourteen graduate students from throughout the
A fourth-year graduate student, Branstetter studies with UC Davis entomology professor
Branstetter, a native of
The recipient of several grants, Branstetter has collected ants in
Branstetter’s next collecting trip will be a two-month excursion in
This is the second consecutive year that a UC Davis graduate student in systematics has won the President’s Prize at the ESA meeting, said Lynn Kimsey, chair of the Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. Last year
It’s official. University of California, Davis scientists who manage campus biological collections have just received a five-year, $4 million grant to research the biodiversity of fungi, bacteria, plants, insects and vertebrates on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, a southeast Asian island threatened by the loss of biodiversity in its tropical forests.
The International Cooperative Biodiversity Group Program is funding the grant. This is a multi-agency program led by the National Institutes of Health with contributions from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation.
Principal investigator Daniel Potter, a plant systematist at the Agricultural Experiment Station and director of the UC Davis Herbarium, said “the alarming rate at which biodiversity is being lost in many tropical regions has resulted in an urgent need for such efforts.”
The grant, “Biodiversity Surveys in
The international team involved in the grant includes UC Davis, UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley and three
Biodiversity refers to all living things in a region and to their interactions of with each other and their surroundings.
The results are expected to aid human health, energy needs, and biodiversity conservation.
The project is sorely needed, said entomologist Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and chair of the Department of Entomology. “For biologists,
The Bohart houses some seven million specimens from throughout the world and is the seventh largest insect museum in
Potter described it as an extraordinary opportunity. "When the call for the International Cooperative Biodiversity Group grant proposals came out in the fall of 2007, several of us involved in management of the biological collections here at UC Davis thought this could be an extraordinary opportunity to initiate a project that would include study of organisms in the multiple taxonomic groups (fungi, bacteria, plants, insects, vertebrates) covered by our collections and to engage in international collaborative research with implications for human health, energy needs, and biodiversity conservation.”
Potter said that two other key participants in the project are his former student, Jeanine Pfeiffer, research director for social sciences at the Earthwatch Institute, and Elizabeth Widjaja, research botanist at Herbarium Bogoriense,
“Thanks to the excellent hard work of many colleagues at UC Davis, UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, and three Indonesian institutions, and with the wonderful guidance and assistance of the outstanding Interdisciplinary Research Support group in the Office of Research here at UC Davis, we were able to put together a strong proposal for an ambitious and exciting project," Potter said.
UC Davis is the lead institution from the
The project is organized into six associate programs: macro-organism surveys, led by Widjaja, microbial surveys, led by discovery of energy solutions, led by discovery of human health solutions, led by Len Bjeldanes, professor of toxicology, UC Berkeley; conservation research and vertebrate surveys, led by and conservation partnerships, training and ethics, led by Pfeiffer.
“We will also be forming partnerships with private companies aimed at the commercial development of natural products for pharmaceuticals and energy production,” Potter said. They have also lined up collaborators from several other leading research institutions, including the
Potter said the results of the project will make significant contributions to a broad range of issues, including
- knowledge of the patterns of biodiversity in southeast Asia
- identification and isolation of natural products with potential therapeutic value to treat globally important diseases and to address human energy neeeds
- knowledge of the patterns of biodiversity in southeast Asia
- identification and isolation of natural products with potential therapeutic value to treat globally important diseases and to address human energy needs
- development of effective biodiversity conservation strategies and proactive outreach and education programs to promote those strategies
- establishment of models for effective and equitable internatinal collaborative partnerships and ethical and sustainable international sharing of biogenetic resources
the Preclinical Development Group at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and
Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology