Ants may be tiny, but they play a huge role in their ecosystems. In fact, biologists estimate that the collective weight of all the ants on Earth is equal to the weight of all humans.
In this talk, Dr. Brian Fisher describes the unique behaviors and incredible adaptations of our planet's most charismatic small animals. See how ants farm, hunt and tend "herds of livestock". Learn how primitive Dracula ants feed on their sisters' blood.
Watch the fastest recorded movement of any animal -- a feisty ant with lightening-quick jaws that Dr. Fisher filmed with one of the world's most advanced high-speed cameras. You'll also learn about Dr. Fisher's conservation efforts in Madagascar and gain new respect for our smallest neighbors.
Brian L. Fisher
Brian L. Fisher, Chairman of Entomology at the California Academy of Sciences, is an ant systematist who specializes in the large-scale discovery, description and naming of African and Malagasy ants. In the past few years, he has discovered over 800 new species of ants in Madagascar alone, including the Madagascar Dracula Ant – a find that is helping scientists to understand the evolution of ants from wasps.
Fisher also maps diversity patterns and uses them to instruct land management and conservation decisions. His inventory work in Africa and Madagascar demonstrates the feasibility and challenges of conducting global biodiversity inventories. He is currently developing technologies for collaborative taxonomy, which will accelerate the process of identification and description of new species with products accessible across a broad community of users (see www.antweb.org).
He also has particular interest in the evolution of the early lineages of ants and is dedicated to instructing the next generation of ant systematists.
Brian Fisher, entomologist at the California Academy of Sciences, seeks answers to mankind's societal problems by observing the social world of ants. In addition to cattle-herding, ants "invented farming 50 million years ago."
Carpenter ant (Camponotus).(Top two) Grace Thompson from The National Aubudon Society CollectionPhoto Researchers/EB Inc., (bottom two) E.S. RossAny member of approximately 10,000 species of the social insect family Formicidae. Ants are found worldwide but are especially common in hot climates. They range from 0.1 to 1 in. (225 mm) long and are usually yellow, brown, red, or black. Ants eat both plant and animal substances; some even farm fungi for food, cultivating them in their nests, or milk aphids. Ant colonies consist of three castes (queens, males, and workers, including soldiers) interacting in a highly complex society paralleling that of the honeybees. Well-known ant species are the carpenter ants of North America, the voracious army ants of tropical America, and the stinging fire ant.
Dr. Fisher brought these destructive ants into the U.S.? Are you nuts? Maybe I missed something in the longer version of this film, but there is a REASON you don't bring invasive species into our country (we already have the republicans!). I do love insects and even more I love watching them, but you don't bring these things here. I can only hope he had the brains to contain them and then kill them once he finished his study on them. I'm already fighting the Kudzu and new stink bugs from China here in Georgia.
Many thanks to Dr. Brian Fisher on this interesting and inspiring talk on what is indeed a family of the most abundant life form on earth, except for maybe microbes. I to can attest to the fact that most people have no interest in insects what so ever except of how to eradicate them from there homes, gardens and yards.
I myself became interested in insects as a boy on my dads farm as I had the opportunity to observe a myriad of different species of insects,. their coloration, body structure and what they eat. Later I took entomology in 4-H and had the opportunity to learn to trap, classify and display my victims.
I say victims because one actually gasses them in a jar. As I watched them struggle to escape the nauseous fumes within only to have their desperate attempts obstructed by a wall of glass, which I'm sure they could not comprehend, I could not help but to think of how people had gassed other people with even less indifference than I had for the life I was taking.. Though I am fully aware of the relationship of predator and pray of the animal kingdom from mammals to insects, the law of nature of eat or be eaten, there is something different about the taking of life for frivolous reasons, I feel the same way about the killing of animals for no other reason than to kill a unsuspecting animal for sport. I realize that I had been an accomplice in killing cattle and hogs for food, I am of the opinion that people would eat a lot less meat if they actually had to kill it themselves, and no doubt had participated in the demise of millions of insects when we sprayed the crops with insecticides, I could not help but feel a little pity for the hapless victims.
I found that trapping, mounting and classifying the little critters involved more time than I had thought so by the time of the county fair I had not yet had my quota of incests to make up the display, but fortunately for me, not so fortunate for the month that found it's self in my clutches, I was able to complete the display only to discover, after I had registered it, that the months wings were flapping wildly, so much for a blue ribbon.
All told it was a great summer and I will never forget the what I had learned, though I still think that close up photographs of moths, butterflies and other insects are a viable alternative.
I would like to see a google world speciemen. Where you can take a picture of a plant or animal and using scanning technology any person can take a picture with thier camera/phone and by using their color/shape and category can either pinpoint or offer several options to choose from for which the plant, animal or insect could be.
This would enable people to learn more about their environment, but it would also allow for an wikipedia like colaberation in understanding what lives where.