New Expedition: Ant Plants II

Hot on the heels of Ant Plants of Virginia I comes Ant Plants of Virginia II! For those of you who are new to the Project, the inspiration for the Ant Plant theme came from an excellent scientific paper that is freely available to the public: Lengyel et al. (2009) “Ants sow the seeds of global diversification in flowering plants” in PLoS ONE 4(5): e5480. This paper demonstrates two things that some may find surprising: 1) ants are essential seed-dispersers for significant percentage of the world’s flowering plants and 2) eastern North America is a global hotspot for this partnership.

This second expedition is significant in two ways: it presents different species than the first expedition (many species from the Spurge and Buttercup families) and will finish up all the relevant sheets from one important Virginian herbarium, the Ted R. Bradley Herbarium at George Mason University (known by the acronym, GMUF). This collection was started in the late 1960’s on the Fairfax, Virginia campus, in what was then a bucolic part of Northern Virginia. Fifty years later, the surrounding dairy farms and many of the intact natural areas are long gone, and GMUF now chronicles decades of our changing local landscape. We are excited to share the specimens of this collection with the world.

[Editors Note: An earlier blog post erroneously stated that the Ant Plants II expedition was already complete. We apologize for that error.]

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