Ant Experiment Essay Research Paper Tunneling responses

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Ant Experiment Essay, Research Paper Tunneling responses of the Western Harvester Ant (Pogonomyrmex) in various soil coarseness. David Brown, Darren Butler, Jeremy Hawkes and Heather Marsh. Department of Zoology, Brigham Young University, Provo, UTAH 84604 Abstract. Western Harvester ants abide primarily in the deserts west of the Mississippi River and can be found in spots of mounding soil and extensive tunneling (Gordon, 1995). The specificity of this specie s habitat location suggests that the ants have precise adaptations to certain environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, food availability, predators, and soil type. By controlling these factors but varying soil type, it appears that the ants are best adapted to the more coarse soil. With a higher tunneling

volume and rate, the ants are most efficient in coarser soil which must be one of the required elements that bring these ants to their current habitat. Introduction Harvester ants are large ants of the pogonomyrmex species (Crist, 1999). They can be up to + inch in length and will be seen crawling on cleared areas of ground around the home. They may be seen going in and out of craters or large holes in the ground which are surrounded by cleared areas from 3 to 35 feet in diameter (Johnson, 2000). Western Harvester ants make a small mound on top, but then tunnel up to 15 feet straight down to hibernate during winter. Ant mounds consist of many chambers connected by tunnels. Different chambers are used for nurseries, food storage, and resting places for the worker ants. The type of

habitat the Harvester ants select may be based on several different variables such as climate, food availability, predators, soil type, etc (Crist, 1999). By removing all other variables but changing the soil type, the ants will demonstrate which soil coarseness they are best suited for. Materials Eight, Ball wide mouth jars where used to contain 15 ants each. Black posterboard was cut into strips and where stapled together to form a tube. The tubes were placed inside the wide mouth jars. In two of the jars, one of two soil types where poured between the outside of the jar and the posterboard insert. Slits were cut into the top of the jar lids and aluminum foil was wrapped around the outside of the jars. The aluminum foil didn’t cover the jar completely, only coming up to a

half inch of the top of the jar. Food (eggs, flour, and honey) was then place inside the posterboard tube in the bottom of the jar. See Figure 1. Methods To measure tunneling the jars were checked periodically to look for visible tunnels. The tunnels were marked on the outside of the jars with permanent markers. Each time period was marked differently so that individual and composite growth could be seen. After the jars were emptied the living ants remaining were counted. Jar 1: (sand) 11 ants remaining Jar 2: (sand) 11 ants remaining Jar 3: (brown soil) 10 ants remaining Jar 4: (brown soil) 11 ants remaining The marked empty jars were then measured. We overlaid a grid system on the markings. The area was calculated by the size and amount of squares in the tunneled through areas.

The individual jars were measured and plotted on a graph to see comparative growth on a time axis. Jar 1: Sand After 42 hours: 11.35 cm2 After 54 hours: 21.67 cm2 After 65 hours: 31.48 cm2 After 68 hours: 34.45 cm2 Jar 2: Sand After 42 hours: 37.16 cm2 After 54 hours: 64.26 cm2 After 65 hours: 70.97 cm2 After 68 hours: 72.00 cm2 Jar 3: Brown Dirt After 42 hours: 16.26 cm2 After 54 hours: 38.20 cm2 After 65 hours: 44.65 cm2 After 68 hours: 44.65 cm2 Jar 4: Brown Dirt After 42 hours: 10.84 cm2 After 54 hours: 16.26 cm2 After 65 hours: 17.29 cm2 After 68 hours: 19.87 cm2 Series 1 is jar 1, series 2 etc. Time 1 is 42 hours, 2 is 54, 3 is 65, and 4 is 68 We then took the total amount of tunneling in each jar and divided it by the amount of ants still alive. We plotted this to compare