Wouter Dekoninck, Ivory Coast (2014-2015)
In depth training on ant and insect taxonomy for young scientists from Western Africa at Station d’écologie de LAMTO, Ivory Coast
Most countries of Western Africa, like Ivory Coast have a megadiverse entomofauna. Nevertheless, entomological diversity, including ants of Western Africa remains poorly known. Recent ant surveys by Dr. Yeo Kolo hosted at Lamto ecological station and other sites in Ivory Coast (Yeo, 2006; Yeo et al., 2011), indicated that its entomological and especially its ant fauna is extremely rich, unique and taxonomically important but also that it is sensitive to global changes such as deforestation, climate modification and probably also introduction of invasive species.
Besides general attention for soil-dwelling entomofauna groups, the main focus of this first year in depth taxonomy training will be on ants and the other insect fauna of Ivory Coast. Ants are one of the most informative and tractable groups for biodiversity evaluation and monitoring because they are ecologically and numerically important, sensitive to environmental changes and easy to collect in a standardised way. Unfortunately, in Ivory Coast, ants are only recently studied (Kone et al., 2012). These recent studies indicate a very diverse fauna which has important implications on other soil-dwelling entomofauna groups.
The aims of the project are to (1) provide a training to 5-10 young scientists from Ivory Coast in the first year of the project and , (2) provide a training to 5-10 young scientists from other Western African countries too like Guinea, Togo and Burkina Faso, later on in the project. This training will enable the participants to develop the skills:
- to disentangle the taxonomic status of several assumed ant species and genera;
- to develop a reference-type collection, using the best modern sampling and curation techniques;
- to understand the importance of a good practice of adding type-material to a collection;
- to (re)describe species and genera.
To attain this objective, these young scientists will be supervised by an international team of three experts in entomology (with focus on myrmecology) and collection curation during one week. The course will combine classroom lectures, laboratory and collection work. It is expected that this high-quality training will stimulate local students and future scientists to carry out taxonomical research on entomology and myrmecology, especially within the framework of conservation projects.
A) Students inspecting their catches after net sweeping. (B) Thibaut Delsinne explaining how to install interception traps.