Tracking ants

07 August 2017 | Research
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NUS Biological Sciences graduate Mr Yong is on a mission to update the ant records in Singapore (Photo: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Permission required for reproduction)

While ants might be ubiquitous in Singapore, the last time the records of these tiny insects were updated was 100 years ago, a fact that NUS Biological Sciences graduate Mr Gordon Yong is striving to change. His mission recently took him to Pulau Ubin where he and a team of researchers collected 53 ant species within nine and a half man hours.

The diversity of ants found in such a short period of time in an area only about 1.6 per cent the size of Singapore raises a possibility that there might be many more yet-to-be-discovered species in Singapore itself. Mr Yong estimates the total number of ant species in Singapore could be between 300 and 350.

“A lot of people think that there are just red ants, black ants, big ants, small ants. That is the biggest misconception. The diversity of ants is really great, even in a small country like Singapore,” he said.

While in Pulau Ubin, Mr Yong and the team also rediscovered some rare ant species that have not been seen in Singapore for 40 years. 

The ant lover was also part of the team that discovered the T. rex ant.

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