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Scientists question reports of massive ant supercolonies in California and Europe

s in most ants, is related to how they smell, and that seems to be related to food or environmental influences," Gordon noted. "Again, there isn't any evidence that there's any relationship between microsatellite diversity and aggression."

Science and media

Gordon and her coworkers maintain that too many researchers have accepted the supercolony theory without carefully scrutinizing the data. The Stanford team also is troubled by the recent spate of news reports in major American and European media presenting the supercolony theory as unquestioned fact.

"The image of a homogenous, continuous supercolony overshadows the important questions about invasive Argentine ants: specifically, where they're actually invading, where they can't invade and what happens after they invade," Ingram explained.

"This story has really captured the imagination of the public, and it's somewhat frustrating," Heller said. "But it's such a neat story, people sometimes don't want to hear conflicting evidence."

Added Gordon: "I think real ants are much more interesting than the stories we make up about ants. We'd have better stories to tell if we started with the actual data."


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Contact: Dawn Levy
dawnlevy@stanford.edu
650-725-1944
Stanford University
7-Apr-2004


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