Presentation subject

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Presentation subject

Post by Benoit Guenard on Sun Jan 20, 2008 9:24 pm

For the life of a forum, I think it is important to develop some traditions for the conviviality of the members' community. One of them would be for each member to present each other to the rest of the group. This will help each member to know what are the expertness, the skills and interests of other members.

So far, the logic wants that I start.

My name is Benoit Guénard, I'm French (more exactly Breton) and a PhD student at North Carolina State University since 2007. I did a part of my undergrad studies in France bu finish them in Montreal at UQAM. It is at this time that I have started to work on ants, with the pleasure to work on 6 tramp species which were introduced accidentally at the Biodome of Montreal (kind of zoological and botanical garden in the middle of Montreal). Those 6 species, Wasmannia auropunctata, Tapinoma melanocephalum, Technomyrmex albipes, Monomorium floricola, Tetramorium bicarinatum and a minute monomorphic Solenopsis, were all present in the tropical ecosystem and had different vertical and horizontal distribution related to moisture and the type of vegetation. The food is present in great abundance due to the fact that the different animals (birds, sloth, capibara, monkeys,...) receive new food every day. So I let you imagine a paradise for ants. So for this introduction with the ants, my goal was at the beginning to know how many species were present and where? Then I have been interested in the different interactions and dominance of the species in the lab (aggressiveness tests in petri dishes) , and how they compete for food. In short, for a first 3 months introduction, that was great, specially during the winter in Quebec to work in a tropical forest.

After this, I have started my master degree under the direction of Eric Lucas (UQAM) and Andre Francoeur (UQAC) on the interactions of an aphidophagous predator and the ant tended aphids colonies. I have been passionated by the mutualism between ants and aphids, but more in general the different types of mutualism that ants have developed with other organisms, plants, fungi, insects, ... My thesis was divided in three main part: 1) the study of the mutualism between ants and aphids and the effect of certain biotic and abiotic factors, 2) the effect of ants on the aphidophagous guild, and 3) the adaptation of a specific predator to exploit ant-attended aphids' colonies and its behavior.
It is also during this period that I have developed an interest for the vulgarization of science and of course ants. I have started to give some presentation for childrens and adults and to be active on Internet under some ant forums.

In August 2006, I have moved to North Carolina in the hope of starting a PhD. I have integrated the lab of Rob Dunn at NCSU for an internship where I have worked on the formation of refuses dumps by Aphaenogaster rudis and the importance in the seed dispersal process. I have also helped my adviser to develop a community database (more info here: http://www4.ncsu.edu/~rrdunn/DunnetalMyrmNews.pdf ) and that was my first steps in the world of global patterns and biogeography.

Only few weeks after my arrival, during a walk in forest I fund this ponerinae which was unknown for me, Pachycondyla chinensis. I was intrigued by this exotic species and decided to investigated more. Quickly, I realized that were I was able to find this species, often in great abundance, the other species were rare. That has seemed to me (and it is still) to be an interesting subject for a PhD. So in January 2007, I have started my PhD in Rob Dunn's lab (he was to much disappointed by this French guy, so he has accepted me) and I so far I have worked on ecological and behavioral aspects of this species in both the native area and the introduced area. But for the moment, it is work in progress...

At the same time, I try to help on some projects on global distribution of the ants which is the main line of my lab. I'm not a biogeographer, and I don't think I will become one, but I do enjoy the study of biogeography study and to be disagree on some points Evil or Very Mad .

I have also a strong interest for ant identification and I try to develop that skill. Patience, patience... For less than one year now, I take macro-pictures of ants and even sometimes other animals. It is not as good as I would like it to be, but I work on it (If you are interested, here is the link: http://www4.ncsu.edu/~bsguenar/Index%20pictures.html ).

I think I will stop here for this presentation. If I should give some keywords of my interests (as in an article) they would be:
ANTS, ecology (specially mutualism), behavioral ecology, taxonomy, evolution, biogeography, photography.

And sorry for my English, I'm still learning.

Now it is your turn Arrow
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Benoit Guenard
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