Alex Heine ’24
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
“Go to the Ant Thou Sluggard, Consider Her Ways and Be Wise”: Buffelgrass Seed Preferences, Predation and Dispersal in Kenya Home Range by Messor Harvester Ants
Certificate(s): Archaeology, Environmental Studies
I examined pictures and videos of Messor harvester ants and their preference for buffelgrass seeds in Laikipia County, Kenya. The predation of buffelgrass by harvester ants could provide insights into how to manage the plant’s population in areas where it is invasive, such as the United States. During the study, I observed and documented the ants via video as they selected seeds from a pile collected by researchers in the field. Then, I ran an analysis of variance model to determine if the differences in seed preference were statistically significant. My efforts contributed to the study’s continuing data collection, which will further the understanding of the relationship between these two species. This internship provided me the opportunity to learn basic Swahili, gain practical data processing skills, and gain new perspectives on conservation’s impact on humans. Due to this experience, I further developed my confidence in pursuing research in conservation biology, and I now have new possibilities and ideas for future research.
Biodiversity and Conservation
Mpala Research Centre
Dino Martins, Executive Director, Mpala Research Centre, and Visiting Research Scholar, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University