Eager ant collectors receive their data Print

After four long months of never-ending washing, sorting and identifying ant species, the Iimbovane project team was once again ready to tackle the road for the annual data handover event. The data handover took place from the 14th to the 27th of August 2009.

Although the fieldwork seemed so long ago, learners were quick to remember the vegetation surveys and the pitfalls that they planted. The data handover consisted of short lessons on what biodiversity is, why it is important and what the threats are to biodiversity. After the theory lessons, learners were given datasheets that contained the list of the ant species found in their school site and in their school’s control site. The team then assisted the learners to identify their own research question and how to answer their question by using diversity indices. Learners were also shown how to make use of different types of graphs to present their results. After learners completed their calculations and graphs they were able to see the importance of measuring biodiversity as an indicator of environmental change.

Learners were stunned to hear that the Iimbovane team has identified more than 100 different types of ant species in the 33 sites that are monitored annually and were very interested in how scientists go about identifying one ant from another. The secrets on ant identifications were then explained by Keafon Jumbam, who shared with them how she uses morphological differences for example, eye size and shape of petiole to distinguish between species. It is not all that easy to be a scientist as some brave learners discovered when trying to pronounce the species name and causing a few entertaining moments for their classmates.

Learners from Emil Weder Secondary School, Genadendal, discovering the secrets of ant identification

Learners from Emil Weder Secondary School, Genadendal, discovering the secrets of ant identification