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New global map of ant biodiversity reveals areas that may hide undiscovered species


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They are hunters, farmers, harvesters, gliders, herders, weavers, and carpenters. They are ants, and they are a big part of our world, comprising over 14,000 species and a large fraction of animal biomass in most terrestrial ecosystems. Like other invertebrates, ants are important for the functioning of ecosystems. They play vital roles from aerating soil and dispersing seeds and nutrients, to scavenging and preying on other species. Yet a global view of their diversity is lacking. Now, researchers from the Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST), in collaboration with multiple institutes around the world, have developed a high-resolution map that combines existing knowledge with machine learning to estimate and visualize the global diversity of ants. The maps and dataset were published in an article in Science Advances.

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