Ants are widespread, play important roles in many ecosystems, and exhibit variation in biodiversity across urban-rural gradients. Yet, there is little ecological information on ants in California's Central Valley, a region characterized by a range of human-impacts—from rapid urbanization to intensive agriculture. Our program aims to open this ecological black box while also engaging citizens in science they can conduct in their schools, parks, or backyards. Participants request ant collecting kits through a web interface (www.backyardantology.weebly.com), collect ants wherever they choose, fill out information cards, and return their collected ants via pre-paid envelopes. We identify the ants and post results on our website, which also contains general information about frequently encountered ant species of the Central Valley. Thus, the website is designed to inform participants and non-participants, with the ultimate goals of promoting knowledge and recruiting more participants.
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