Tuesday, March 13, 2012

antbase down: up again

Antbase is up again. All the citations are now linked again to the original descriptions, or all the citations given to the group. This new system allows us to provide access to all the descriptions (via antbase), or subsequent citations (via HOL, linked from the bottom of the antbase search return page) irrespective whether the publication is open access, we have a copyright waver or they are copyrighted.

What we have not resolved yet is access to all the publications. We are few steps away from a solution, but need to implement it. The solution will not include a per se open access but via a login. What the condidtion for a login will be is still under discussion. Certainly, those who are supporting antbase will get it.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

antbase down: (almost) alive again

After far too long, antbase.org is up again. It is not the same as before, because we changed our policy. We cannot risk again to be shut down because we have copyrighted material online. For our convenience we provide at the beginning none or only to those publications access that are older than 1926, the cut of day for copyrighted material, and gradually will add more to it. This is not the solution that we envision, but that’s reality we life in, and as long as we publish in non-Open Access journals we are our own culprit.

However, being now based in Switzerland, we have the legal environment to provide access to all the descriptions, irrespective of their date of publication (for details see Agosti & Egloff). We thus will make it to our goal to provide as in the past at least access to all the descriptions.

For those offered support during the last month, we would like to suggest to monitor antbase and let us know, whether we are missing out on a description and the respective original treatment. This will help us to stay up to date with less effort from our side. Hopefully at some point, the goal of a synchronization of the our database (the Hymenoptera Name Server) and antcat will work out, and make all of use more efficient and using all our individual strengths.

If you are even more devoted to provide access, you can help us to mark up the publications on Plazi and make it accessible much more widely, such as in the Encyclopedia of life or antweb.org.

For now, Norm and Joe are working at the HNS side to insert all the links that have been taken down. This should be done in the next couple of days so that antbase will be fully operational as described above.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

OA ant publications: Neotropical Ants issue

Hindawi published in the revitalized Psyche (70 articles published only this year) a special edition Advances in Neotropical Myrmecology, including the description of some very unusual ants like the second species of Tatuidris.

From a cataloguing point of view and thus also from a nomenclatorial point, I do not find an indication that the journal is not just an e-only-journal but has the still necessary printed version. Also it is a bit awkward that there is no proper volume number, as Psyche had before, but just the year.

Despite all of this, I am always delighted to see publications from the sprawling Neotropical ant community, and that ants are used in environmental and especially monitoring studies.

Monday, February 27, 2012

antbase down

Antbase is still down, even 27 days after it has been shut down - the story about that will be written up with due distance to this event.

This morning I met my colleagues Helen and Sakine to discuss the future development of the Iran Ant Fauna Project. In this situation, I am the user of antbase and thus realize what it means – if I would not know already – to be cut off from the literature supply.

One of the first thoughts was to think about how we can avoid this in future, and this I am sure will not happen again. The second thought was about the ephemeral nature of the Internet. Somebody outside a project decides to shut down a service and off is such a rather expensive resource. This again is something to keep in mind, but not very helpful right now. The third thought was, I can’t believe it, and there must be ways around.

And there are.

Remember, one important element of antbase was that you can get from a reference directly to the respective page or publication. And this service is now cut, because the link exists, but it does not resolve. The way around is to do the following that works to publications at around 2009.
1. Go to archive.org’s WayBackMachine and search for antbase.org
2. Click the latest snapshot of antbase and enter the search term you want. You can get all the publications out this way.
3. Copy the title of the publication you want into the search field on the upper right corner of archive.org and you will get the respective publication from the ant collection Brian and I once helped the Internet Archive to establish.

We are now close to have the entire data moved to a new site and will be able to relaunch antbase within the next days.

General issues are dealt with here.

Specimen collection

Today I got the most extraordinary ant collection for identification ever. I wonder, what words can mean, and how loosely they can be interpreted. I met this student from Mashad at IRIPP to discuss his project to write a book about the ants of Iran. Among others we discussed how he has to label and mount the ants. For that I showed him some examples, and explained it again at the recent first meeting of Iranian myrmecologists and this is the result. Yes, I do not speak Farsi, and I eat up ends of my words, but even pictures (the slides with mounted specimens) don't do the job. A real challenge for intercultural communication.
Even tough I would have preferred a detailed list of specimen information, his list at least includes geo-coordinates (I assume from a GPS in the field) which allows to derive all the rest of the information.
The good thing - though demanding some time - is that there is a wet collection as well.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Conflicting Ant Meeting Schedules

Though the resources in ant taxonomy are globally used (eg antbase.org, see clustermap, antweb.org) the organizers or ant conferences are not. In fact, this year the two major conferences on ants, the ANeT conference
and the Simpósio de Mirmecologica that attracts over 400 participants mananges to have their meetings almost exactly at the same dates 17-21 October and 16-20 October respectively. The meeting of the Oesterreichische Myrmekologentreffen, that has a very local target audience is another one this year.
It would make sense to alternate the conferences so that one could attend both, not least so that the global efforts could be coordinated.
Global efforts, collaboration? This is still a "Fremdwort" in the myrmecological world, where too many try compete to build the ultimate global ant information system, and most of them miss the resources to deliver nor do they have a plan for long time maintenance of their databases. Though this reflects to some extend the amateurish aspect of scholarly online communication, it is at the same time a tremendous waste of resources, and a lot is done by copy-paste of already existing material, such as pdfs, taxonomic lists, images.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Fungi making zombie ants

I was always puzzled by the fungis growing out of ants in the tropics, as well as Microcoelia parasitize ant and before they kill their pray alter their behavior so that it is to the benefit of the parasite. In the case of fungi the spores have to be disseminated, in the case of the Microcoelia the entire and has to be placed so that the next sheep will eat the ant whilst it is browsing.

The story in PLoS One reported in Wired magazine is not just cool and explains mechanisms, but it is in a geeks journal.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ant Meeting: Österreichisches Myrmekologentreffen

During this year, there will be several ant meetings which I will list once they are posted.
The first this year is the Österreichisches Myrmekologentreffen
Montag, 7. März 2011, 900 – 1700 Uhr
Fakultätszentrum für Biodiversität
Rennweg 14, 1030 Wien

It has the following program:
ab 9:00 Ankunft und Kaffee
10:00 Begrüßung Konrad Fiedler
10: 20 – 12:00 Myrmekologische Forschung in Österreich
und angrenzenden Regionen
10:20 ‐ 10:40 J. Chlumský, Veronika Jílková, P. Koutecký, M. Štech
Dispersal possibilities and adaptations for myrmecochory
in genus Melampyrum
10:40 ‐ 11:00 Melanie Tista
Preliminary results on macroecological patterns in European
ant communities
11:00 ‐ 11:20 Herbert Zettel, Daniela Magdalena Sorger
Schnappkiefer, Widerhaken, blaue Piraten und andere Merkwürdigkeiten –
die Philippinen, die Galápagos‐Inseln Asiens
11:20 ‐ 11:40 Line V. Ugelvig
Pathogen response in ant societies is influenced by geneticdiversity
11:40 ‐ 12:00 Veronika Jílkov, L. Matějíček, J. Frouz
Changes in the pH and other soil chemical parameters in soil
surrounding wood ant (Formica polyctena) nests
12:00 – 13:30 Mittagspause
13:30 – 13:50 Florian M. Steiner, Birgit C. Schlick‐Steiner, Herbert Zettel
Die Entwicklung der Myrmecological News (vormals
Myrmecologische Nachrichten) zu einem international
beachteten Fachjournal
13: 50 – 15:10 Heimische Ameisenfauna
13:50 ‐ 14:10 Florian Glaser
Gefährdung und Schutz ostalpiner Ameisen und die
Verantwortlichkeit Österreichs – ein Aus‐ und Überblick
14:10 ‐ 14:30 Herbert C. Wagner
Zum faunistischen Stand der Ameisen Südösterreichs
14:30 ‐ 14:50 Erich Zormann
Artenvielfalt von Ameisen im Wienerwald
14:50 ‐ 15:10 Johann Ambach
Schwindende Vielfalt? – Eine Myrmekolologische
Bestandsaufnahme Oberösterreichs
15:10 ‐ 16:00 Kaffeepause
16:00 – 17:00 Heimische Ameisenfauna (Fortsetzung)
16:00 ‐ 16:20 Florian Glaser, Herbert C. Wagner
Die große Kerbameise (Formica exsecta) – Insekt des Jahres 2011
16:20 ‐ 16:40 Herbert C. Wagner
Ein neuer arboricoler Temnothorax für Österreich
16:40 ‐ 17:00 Melanie Tista
Sammelmethoden bei Ameisen – Ist eine Aufwandsreduktion möglich?

Please register before the end of Februrary 2011.
Mag. Melanie Tista
melanie.tista@univie.ac.at, 01/4277‐57411

The meeting is organized by
Univ.‐Prof. Mag. Dr. Konrad Fiedler
Mag. Melanie Tista
Department für Biodiversität der Tiere
Universität Wien