Discuss the origin and significance of diversity within and between species in a named taxonomic group of your choice(Ants).

Essay by risenshineCollege, Undergraduate November 2008

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IntroductionAnts Formīca are arguably the most successful organisms presently on earth. They evolved from a wasp like common ancestor approximately 150 million years ago(2006 Chuck Lydeard)1. Due to their long ecological dominancy amongst insect and short life span they have undergone a high rate of adaptive radiation. Leading to a reasonably large amount of species and inter- species diversity. There are at least 12000 different species of Formicidae (2008 Edward O. Wilson)2 which have colonised almost every landmass on the planet(Alice S. Jones 2006)3 This unique dominancy and prevalence means that Ants presently account for an incomparable 15 to 20%(2000 Ted R. Schultz)4,3 of the world's terrestrial animal biomass. Formīca exhibit eusociality, they have complex rigid social roles and interactions. They form colonies varying form a few hundred to super colonies with billions of individuals. Ant's prevalence is often over looked due to their size and nature. The time when we most notice their vast numbers is when it starts affecting us; but to put it in perspective there are around 1.7billion

ants for every person in Scotland(2006 Edward O. Wilson) 5,6.

History of OriginThe Origin of the Ant stems back even further than we originally thought. A new D.N.A. study which included researchers from Harvard University states that they evolved around 140 to 168 million years ago in the Jurassic or Cretaceous period1. This is significant when we analyze how Ants became so successful and diverse. They evolved from the same common ancestor family as wasps called Vespoidea (1999 Denis J. Brothers)7 the similarity is clear in the family velvet ant (Mutillidae,) [See figure 1] which is actually a wasp but exhibits ant like qualities. They originally evolved in a rain forest type climate living predominantly amongst large herbivores. Indeed this is where we see the greatest number of...