Wildlife

Ant Supercolony Threat

A species of ant living in ancient forests of Ethiopia has begun exhibiting signs of supercolony formation, a development experts say could lead to the insects invading other parts of the world.

Supercolony formation is rare in ants, but Ethiopia’s Lepisiota canescens have formed one colony that stretches for 24 miles, according to researchers with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. They warn the ants could hitch a ride in plant material or even in the luggage of tourists to wind up ravaging the ecology of other parts of the world.

“All it takes is one pregnant queen,” said researcher D. Magdalena Sorger. “That’s how fire ants started!”

Shrinking Reindeer

While Santa now has a greater number of reindeer to choose from for his Christmas Eve travels, with populations of the animals having increased over the past two decades, the average weight of the iconic grazers is declining under the influence of climate change.

Scientists from Scotland’s James Hutton Institute found that the weight of adult reindeer in Norway’s Svalbard Arctic archipelago dropped by 12 percent since 1994.

Warmer winters are bringing more rainfall, which falls on snow and freezes so thick that the reindeer can’t reach their main winter diet of lichen on the ground below.

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