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I visited my advisor this morning and we had a great discussion about the current leafcutter manuscript. Things are moving forward, hurrah! I am supposed to be working on revisions right this very minute so I can keep the momentum going. Hmm.

It was also fun to see the current state of the ants in the behavior lab. Here's my advisor and a kickass grad student in front of the Cabinet of Curiosities:

Fewell Lab Curiosity Cabinet
Blurry as usual. Thanks, smart-o-phone!

This student studies honeypot ants of the genus Myrmecocystus.

My photos came out mediocre or terrible, but here's an observation colony he constructed:
Myrmecocystus nest in the Fewell lab

The cool thing about these ants is that they use a subgroup of workers as living storage vessels for water, sugar, and fat.

Myrmecocystus nest in the Fewell lab

You can see some of the workers hanging from the ceiling with large, balloon-like abdomens.

This student was a huge help to me when he was an undergraduate because he and his father built a set of cabinets for this lab so I could more easily store all of my leafcutter ant colonies.

Apparently these guys were inspired after a visit to Germany last year/earlier in the year (date uncertain), to the Universität Würzburg, where they got to see some of the incredible nest designs partially featured in the film Ants - Nature's Secret Power. They returned to Arizona with ideas for how to improve their nests, and are now able to grow bigger, better seed-harvester colonies.

Pogonomyrmex nests in the Fewell lab

This is phenomenal for people whose research centers around colony size, colony organization, and colony growth.

Pogo nest design

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March 2019


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