Search for the Swedish Narrow Headed Ant

The project investigated the distribution of the endangered Swedish Narrow Headed Ant in the Inner Oetz Valley.

ant, Oetz Valley, distribution

The project overview

Area of Science: Natural Sciences
Location: Inner Oetz Valley
Used Devices: without PC/Mobile, with PC/Mobile
Equipment of citizen scientists: GPS, camera, measuring tape
Activities of citizen scientists: observing, collecting, measuring, photographing
Suitable for: Youngsters and adults
Project duration: 01.05.2015 - 31.12.2016
Time to join in: 01.05.2016 - 30.09.2016

Project objective

The project called "Search for the Swedish Narrow Headed Ant" investigated the recent distribution of the rare and endangered Swedish Narrow Headed Ant (Formica suecica) in the Inner Oetz Valley. In Central Europe, populations of the Swedish Narrow Headed Ant are only known from two sites in the Inner Oetz Valley near Obergurgl and Vent. These populations are presumably threatened by global warming. Apart from that, the Swedish Narrow Headed Ant is common in Scandinavia and in Siberia. The main objective of the project was to find out where exactly and to which extent the Swedish Narrow Headed Ant is frequent in the surroundings of Obergurgl, Hochgurgl, Windach Valley as well as near Vent in the Nieder Valley and the Rofen Valley. All these sites belong to the municipality of Soelden.

How did citizen scientists participate?

After registration participants looked for visible ant mounds together with experts. First they recorded the geographic coordinates, collected further data such as the measurements of the ant mounds and filled in a printed form. After that, they collected five to ten ants from each anthill and put into a test tube filled with pure alcohol. In the field biologists explained a lot of interesting details concerning the life of this rare ant species. Citizen scientists were informed about the results through a distribution map of the Swedish Narrow Headed Ant on the regularly updated project website.

What happened to the contributions of citizen Scientists?

All data collected in the project areas were sent to an ant expert, i.e. myrmecologist. He determined the collected ants on the species level, analysed all the data, created the final distribution map and wrote the reports.

Each team working in the field will consisted of 2-4 members. The performance of these teams were assessed by a points-based system. The winning team of each of the three categories namely "school class", "Young University of Innsbruck" and "iÖ" (open for all people interested in the research) received 1,000 Euro. Whereas the winning school class got the prize money for the class fund, the winners of the categories "Young University of Innsbruck" and "iÖ" donated this money for scientific or nature conserving purposes. For further information please visit the project homepage:

Participating and supporting institutions


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