Dec 31, 2020
Bees as ant trackers? Turning off a species’ immune or motor neuron system? Drones used for precision delivery of products? These are just a couple of the topics explored by ant specialist and researcher Dr. Ben Hoffman.
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Dr. Ben Hoffman is Principal Research Scientist at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia. He specializes in the study of ants—specifically how ants become invasive, what parts of biology contribute to their success in becoming invasive, and how they can be better managed.
Dr. Hoffman focuses his efforts on ongoing research in this regard, and on helping people understand and control invasive ant species. He explains that an ‘invasive species’ is one that is known to have impacts on people, environments and ecological systems, or agriculture.
One of the primary challenges in removing invasive ant species is doing so without contaminating or destroying the environment from which they’re being removed. In part, this is challenging because general insecticides are used to kill invasive ant species, and these insecticides can produce unavoidable negative impacts on the surrounding area.
An even greater challenge, Dr. Hoffman explains, is simply detecting the presence of an invasive ant species. He explores ways of overcoming these challenges, and touches on many other topics along the way, including the ecological role of insects, ant colony structure and communication, the invasion process, and more.