Researchers can now crawl through data on 11,000 ant species.
Formidable catalogue puts army of ants online.
After four years of cooperation and tenacity worthy of their quarry, ant experts have completed Antbase, a centralized, online information resource cataloguing all 11,000 known species of ant.
Its creators hope that Antbase will one day become the ant equivalent of GenBank, the public database of genetic sequence data, and a boon not just for ant specialists, but for entomologists and ecologists of every kind.
Ant taxonomists Donat Agosti of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and Norman Johnson of Ohio State University in Columbus built Antbase using funds from general research budgets and small institutional grants. Having compiled a full list of ant names, they hope their homespun project will now win long-term funding and a permanent home. "It needs to be institutionalized," says Agosti.
The database’s backbone is an updated list of species names. Compiling the list was anything but trivial, Agosti and Johnson say. Descriptions of new species published in obscure journals over the past century had led to heavy duplication. As the project progressed, Antbase shrank to its current size from an initial list of over 20,000 names. "We’re trying to pick up the debris from nineteenth-century taxonomy," says Johnson.
Records for each species are being linked to information on their geographical distribution and life history, plus pictures held by the Japanese Ant Color Image Database.
Antbase could emerge as a long-needed resource for ant taxonomists, says Ted Schultz, who works as one at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. "Before, you had to spend hours photocopying thousands of pages of primary literature," he says. The resource could also aid more general studies of ecosystems, where ants often have a prominent role. "Ants are an incredibly useful ecological indicator," Schultz adds.
TOM CLARKE | © Nature News Service
'Lipid asymmetry' plays key role in activating immune cells
20.02.2018 | Biophysical Society
New printing technique uses cells and molecules to recreate biological structures
20.02.2018 | Queen Mary University of London
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
20.02.2018 | Life Sciences
20.02.2018 | Medical Engineering
20.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy