The biannual Jasper Ridge Ant Survey is a great way to see a part of Jasper Ridge you don't often get to. Volunteers go to pre-determined points on a 100-meter grid -- off trail and on. We mark the genus of all ants we see there during a brief search. This data set goes back to spring 1993, tracking the invasion of the Argentine ants and the ebb and flow of the other ants at Jasper Ridge, season to season and year to year. (Check out my book to learn more. You can find the photo collection nearby, in the "Jasper Ridge Gallery":
This year's spring survey fell on Helen's birthday, so I left the Ridge a little early to help the family celebrate. But even with that abbreviated visit, and mainly paying attention to ants, I did come across some interesting things.
My day began on the drive into the Preserve. A herd of bucks were browsing near the road. They were not too bothered by the photographer, though they did keep an ear on me.
Setting up for the traditional group photo, I had time to watch a few birds in the parking lot. Please leave your comments with IDs!
This year Hans and I looked for ants along Road B, along the SLAC boundary. As Hans expected, we found mostly Argentine ants. They are mostly along the borders of Jasper Ridge, and the Sun Research Center, the main building. But in the center of the Preserve, far from the boundaries and far from civilization, the native ants prevail. Indeed, there were some native winter ants today, near San Francisquito Creek and farther from the SLAC boundary. They have learned to successfully compete with the invaders.
The sandstone outcroppings of Rattlesnake Rock are favorites of mine. Here are some views from the distance -- along with more of the sights that caught my eye when I was not bent down searching for ants.