We explore how and why ecological communities vary from place to place, and use ants and other soil critters as model organisms in evolutionary ecology. In the essay “Systematics Ascending”, E. O. Wilson contrasted two ways of doing science based on…

AntLab plus Jon Shik


Folks in our lab know their organisms, know their theory, and combine field and lab studies to answer questions that obsess us. We work all over the world, but have a real fondness for tropical rainforests. We have a helluva lot of fun…

Teaching Heading


Most of the world’s greatest challenges are ecological. We are all students in this rapidly changing world and depend upon everyone’s creativity and hard work to find solutions.  We learn by combining intense exposure to data and concepts, regular practice of new skills, and making time for quietude…


3DSoil_by Brittany Benson

A chaos of surfaces: part 2

The litter biologist, on her hands and knees in the tropical litter, dips low and smells the moist spicy funk of good rot*.  She sees a mosaic of five or six species of leaves, some rounded, some crenulated, in shades…


A chaos of surfaces: part 1

We humans are blessed with huge brains. Those brains are plugged into a handful of sensor arrays–ears, noses, and eyes–which stream gigabytes of information. All of this exists in a platform about (in my case) five and half feet off…

Fig Fighter planes Dinosaurs and bugs

Fighter planes, dinosaurs, and bugs

I grew up in the era of cheap plastic toys, the kind you could get from the Dime Store. The Dime Store’s narrow aisles were full of cheap stuff. The lighting was garish and the place smelled of floor wax…


Herbivores like a little salt with their protein

When offered grassland plots fertilized with Nitrogen+Phosphorus, Sodium, or both, above and belowground invertebrates respond to salt differently.

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One way to build a dietary generalist

Karl Roeder gives some background on the dietary diversity hidden in a population of red imported fire ants

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