Iimbovane learners contribute to international barcoding project Print

The data collected in the Iimbovane Outreach Project has many potential uses in biodiversity or conservation biology. It gives the baseline on which other projects can build.

 In 2011 the Iimbovane team and learners assist the international Barcode of Life Project, which aims to “barcode” all species on earth. “Barcoding” is a method that uses part of an organism’s DNA to identify it as a particular species in the same way a supermarket scanner uses the familiar black stripes of the barcode to identify your purchases. This “barcode” is still very much unknown for most species. 
The collection of biological material for “barcoding” requires the active hunting of ants. Active hunting involves the removal of ants from their habitat without traps or baits. A simple method of using paintbrushes was used catch the ants. Iimbovane learners participated with much enthusiasm and were thrilled to “arrest” some of the ants in their respective school grounds.

This will assist the South African research and conservation communities in future to identify ant species. The initiative can also improve the Iimbovane data by, for example, highlighting the existence of possible cryptic species (distinct species that however look very similar and may have thus not been recognised as separate entities before).

 For more information about the Barcode of life project visit: http://ibol.org/ and http://www.boldsystems.org/views/login.php