A gargantuan effort to document one of the most abundant species on the planet is under way to better understand its characteristics and diversity.
The University of Hong Kong (HKU) and the Okinawa Institute of Sciences and Technology (OIST) are collaborating to map 15,000 species of ants worldwide, according to Apple Daily.
Dr. Benoit Guenard, an assistant professor in the HKU School of Biological Sciences, and Dr. Evan Economo of OIST have spent four years building an “ant map”.
Their work has produced a website (http://antmaps.org) that tracks thousands of ant species worldwide.
Ants were chosen for the study because they are one of the most numerous and ecologically important groups of insects, they said.
An estimated 10,000 to 15,000 species are yet to be described and categorized.
Hong Kong has 170 known species of ants including 15 new species discovered by Guenard and Economo.
These include a tiny new species of leptanilla sp., which is only 1.2 mm long and found in Lung Fun Shan Country Park, and dracula ant.
Entomologists can check the distribution of thousands of ant species in any region or compare them through the wesbite.
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