January 07 2015
For two weeks during June, 2014, Kayla Heintzleman 16’, Brandon Davis 17’, Diana Lutz 17’, Charlea Smith 17’, and Zachary Park 17’ took part in the Elmira College Summer Research Program and traveled to San Salvador Island, The Bahamas.
Dr. Daniel Kjar led the research with help from Dr. Betsy Smith and Marcia Metcalfe. The students and faculty stayed at the Gerace Research Centre and traveled throughout the island to conduct observations. The students spent hours in the field each day monitoring competitive interactions among ant species. The research explored ant species interactions and how particular environments affect the outcomes of these interactions.
By observing the behavior of ants at baits placed in the field, a variety of important influences on the ant community can be understood; in particular, if isolation of ant species to particular habitats may be due to competitive interactions and how those interactions change due to temporal and environmental changes.An important aspect of this research is determining the effect of non-native ant species on the outcome of competitive interactions, and if this affects ant diversity and community structure. The students spent their days recording data in the field and their evenings curating and identifying the ants we observed during the day. In the future Dr. Kjar plans on bringing students down to the island for research regularly. Dr. Kjar will be presenting a summary of the results of the 2014 research during the Natural History and Geology of the Bahamas conference during the summer of 2015.