Monday, November 1, 2010

Ant mounds

I'm working on the intro for my prescribed burn paper and came across some work written by Cerda and Doerr (in press) The effect of ant mounds on overland flow and soil erodibility following a wildfire in eastern Spain. Ecohydrology

I have a soft spot for this topic due to my honours research. A severe fire occurred in the Blue Mountains back in 1994. At that stage I was studying “what is a beach” for my honours in Geomorphology. I loved surfing and really wanted to move into coastal geomorphology. After riding through and seeing the post fire lunar landscape my topic preference changed. At the time I lived in the Blue Mountains and decided to swap topics due to the fire being right on my doorstep. 

Cut a long story short the ant mounds were causing havoc with my study site stirring up the sediment and increasing the amount of erosion occurring. A staff member suggested I put petrol down the hole to fix the problem.  Luckily I ignored that suggestion and chose to separate the measurements to work out how much sediment the ants were adding. It was all done on a budget of $120. Prices were cheap as I was a crazy, enthusiastic student who could travel anywhere on a mountain bike. This was in the days prior to students using the internet for researching.

It was a fascinating project resulting in numerous publications thanks to my supervisor with a gift for writing. What has been intriguing is watching how science develops from a new idea. It has been a buzz watching the scientific community grab the research and run with it. According to ISI Web the paper now has 14 citations not including the new publication in press by Cerda and Doerr. I’ve created a graph showing the citation growth. I’m trying to master graphing in the latest version of excel. It’s so different to my old Office 2003 version. As for this graph will it keep going up or level out in the future?




Ant mounds at the sediment trap located at Faulconbridge in the Blue Mountains

References

Cerda and Doerr (in press) The effect of ant mounds on overland flow and soil erodibility following a wildfire in eastern Spain. Ecohydrology

Dragovich D, Morris R (2002) Fire intensity, slopewash and bio-transfer of sediment in eucalypt forest, Australia. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 27, 1309-1319

Morris R (1994) Soil erosion in the post-fire landscape. Honours, 89pp

1 comment:

RobynK said...

The ants around here build mounds before it rains. They also habitate the wooden fence posts in droves pre rain. It's a good indication that we'll have a downpour in a couple of days. I missed seeing the ants when the drought was on and also missed worm watching as the earthworms come to the surface before a downpour so they don't drown when the earth becomes sodden.

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