A team of scientists conducting a recent biodiversity survey in the ancient church forests of Ethiopia made an unexpected discovery — a rather infamous ant species (Lepisiota canescens) displaying signs of supercolony formation. According to D. Magdalena Sorger, a post-doctoral researcher with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and a key member of the team, the discovery is significant for two reasons. First, supercolony formation in ants is rare, with documented cases of only around 20 species worldwide. Second, other species in the Lepisiota genus have recently made headlines as worrisome invasive species, one in South Africa’s Kruger National Park and another that shut down Australia’s Darwin Port for several days. The team’s findings, were published in Insectes Sociaux in November.
In Ethiopia, forests frequently surround Orthodox churches, some of which are more than 1,500 years old. These forests range in size from only a few hectares to more than 400 (~1,000 …
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