Samoa Collecting Trip


In April, 2015, Eli and Cong made a two-week collecting trip to Samoa. One purpose was to look for two endemic species Pheidole aana and Pheidole atua, which was last collected in 1967 before this trip. They ended up finding Pheidole aana, along with four other endemic species among the 33 ant species collected during this trip. They also recorded two new genera from Samoa, Discothyrea and Proceratium. Moreover, they collected native forest species at an altitude as high as 1400 meters.

Samoa Collecting Trip  Samoa Collecting Trip

‘Wonders of Ants’ booth at Open Campus, February 2015


Submitted by Yoshimura-san

The Economo Unit once again setup the booth, “Wonders of Ants,” at OIST’s Open Campus, which took place on February 1st, 2015. We displayed 2D and 3D ant images, research posters, ant trivia, ant specimens and live colonies to show our ant research. Many visitors enjoyed the displays, and learned about the diversity of ants and their important role in the ecosystem. Some people were surprised to see the stout head of the Okinawan trap-jaw ant, Odontomachus kuroiwae. Some were amazed by the high diversity of ants found on Okinawa Island. Many kids were glued to the live colony displays, and to the 3D image. We also asked visitors to draw ants. By the end of the day, we had three large posters filled with colorful drawings of ants!

We would like to thank all the volunteer staff for their hard work!



More information about Open Campus 2015: [English|日本語]

Photos from the booth (courtesy Cong Liu):

New Pheidole paper published

Very happy to report the new paper on Pheidole from the lab, in collaboration with Lacey Knowles’ lab at U. Mich. We update the global phylogeny to around 300 species, and find some interesting relationships between the phylogenetic and macroecological structure of the genus. Also check out the story on the OIST website. This one has been a long time coming and a lot of work. Look for more work and bigger trees on Pheidole coming soon.  Pheidole_phylo

Welcome Georg Fischer to the lab!

georg We are pleased to welcome Georg Fischer to the lab, our new Postdoctoral Scholar.  Georg originally hails from Germany, but more recently was a postdoc at the California Academy of Sciences for several years.  He is going to be taking a leading role in our projects on the biogeography, ecology, phylogeny, and systematics of the hyperdiverse ant genus Pheidole.  Georg has worked particularly on the Afrotropical and Malagasy Pheidole, and will continue that work but also put it in context of the major Old World Pheidole radiations.

Children’s School of Science, August 2014

Submitted by Yoshimura-san and Ogasawara-san

Onna-son and OIST organized a summer science school for children from the 18th to the 22nd of August, 2014. Members of Economo Unit participated and held a class for 1st to 3rd grade students from local schools.

The theme of the class was of course “The Ants!” Students enjoyed a science quiz about morphology and ecology of ants, and learned about this wonderful insect, which, although quite common and familiar, is actually very mysterious.

We started by demonstrating an experiment for the students where we fed colored honey to the Yellow Crazy ants. Soon after, the colors could been seen in the gasters of the ants. Then the students collected ants by themselves and observed them under the microscopes in search for answers to the quiz questions. By the end of the quiz, they were full of many new questions! They were amazed to find out that many different species, each with varying appearances and morphology, live under their feet.

We would like to thank the volunteer staff for their kind support!




More information about the event:



Photos from the event, courtesy OIST CPR Staff: