Science, Tech & Environment

Radio Tags to Help Wood Ant Research


Sam Ellis Uses a Matchstick to Place a Radio Tag on an Ant (Photo: University of York)

For today's Geo-Quiz, we're taking you to a unique site in the English countryside. In fact, if you're a fan of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, you might know this English county as the place where Mr. Darcy's country home, Pemberley, is located.

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But to be honest, we're taking you there for scientific reasons. This county is the real-life home of a unique ant. The Northern hairy wood ant is a protected species in Britain.

At one site in our mystery location, more than 50 million of these ants have built more than 1,000 nests. Unlike in other parts of Europe where they live, the ants here split entire colonies among different nests. Scientists are working to better understand how and why the ants do this.

And to do that, they're planning to put radio tags on some of the ants, and then release back out in the wilds of Derbyshire…the English county which is the answer to today's quiz. The work is being spear-headed by Sam Ellis of the University of York.