Over the past two weeks, several junior Science classes have been completing an ecology investigation into ant populations at Rutherford College. NZ has over 40 species of ants, most of them introduced by humans. The native ants play a significant role in our NZ ecosystems, including pollinating some plants and helping to disperse seeds of native trees.
Students of 9GR, 9TL and 10JF conducted genuine scientific research to identify which ant species are found around the Rutherford College grounds, which foods they are attracted to and which microhabitats they are found in. Each group of students chose a location around the school and laid four types of food baits in small containers to attract the ants. They also recorded information about the immediate environment, including water sources, food sources and amount of shade. Back in class, the students used microscopes and an online identification key to identify which species of ants were found in each location, as well as what baits they were attracted to. The final results are yet to be confirmed, but at least 3 or 4 species of ants were found, and possibly several more.
This is the first time this type of investigation has been completed at Rutherford College, meaning that the results constitute unique scientific information. If the results are reliably confirmed, the findings could be shared with scientists doing similar studies to add to the data already gathered in different locations around the country. Students of 9GR, 9TL and 10JF can be proud of their work and efforts in this genuine scientific pursuit!