Bonnie Blaimer to Give Exit Thesis on Crematogaster Ant, the 'Acrobat Ant,' on Monday, March 12
Feb. 17, 2012
DAVIS--Bonnie Blaimer, doctoral candidate in the Phil Ward lab, will give her exit thesis presentation on the Crematogaster Ant, aka the "Acrobat Ant," at 4:30 p.m., Monday, March 12, in 122 Briggs.
Her talk is entitled "The Evolution, Biogeography and Systematics of Crematogaster Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), with a Taxonomic Focus on the Malagasy Region."
A more exciting title, she commented, is "How Acrobat Ants Took Over the World, Rafted to Madagascar and Speciated."
Her thesis abstract:
The genus Crematogaster, also known by its common name "acrobat ant," is a globally distributed and species-rich group of ants. My dissertation research focused on the evolution and phylogenetic systematics of Crematogaster ants, with a particular emphasis on illuminating the origin and affinities of the Crematogaster of Madagascar, and the timescale of their colonization of the island. I reconstructed a molecular framework phylogeny from five nuclear genes in order to infer the origin and biogeographic history of Crematogaster. This has further allowed me to improve the previous morphological subgeneric classification of the genus. A second component of my research concentrated on revising the taxonomy of Crematogaster in the Malagasy region by using both morphological and molecular methods. The phylogenetic results of my thesis will significantly contribute to current understanding of ant evolution, whereas the taxonomic part of my research will form a basis for ecological studies and for conservation decisions in Madagascar.
Blaimer said she became interested in Crematogaster ants, and taxonomy and evolution, in general, while working as an intern with the California Academy of Sciences in Madagascar.
She completed her master's degree in forest sciences in 2006 in Freiburg, Germany. Blaimer joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology as a graduate student in 2007.
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology