A student research project this summer will look at ant populations and their health as possible indicators of how uranium mining has affected areas of the Navajo Nation. Ernesto Rodriguez, a senior in environmental sciences and biology at NAU, will work on the Navajo Ant Project initiated by Dine College and Harvard University last year. Its goal is to produce the first scientific ant database for the Navajo Nation.
Rodriquez said, "We want to see if any ant is a reliable indicator of ecological health. However, we need to first figure out which ants are found in the region to project potential indicator species." [right, genus brachymyrmex. Credit, Antweb.org]
Last summer's research does not show any significant impacts of uranium on ant fauna, according to Rodriquez, "but several years of data might depict a different story."