David Lubertazzi

I am an ant biologist that is interested in how ecological factors influence evolution. My research requires an intimate understanding of the organisms I work with and ants serve as the focal taxon for my studies. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.

Ants Online

For the past few years I have been creating online resources about ants. Navajo Nature provides information about the ants of the Navajo Reservation in southwestern North America. My goal with this website was to focus on a discrete collection of ants and explore, using a real example, what can be done in making species pages for ants. The next step with this work is to create a global solution for presenting information about all ants. This is being accomplished through the development of Antwiki.org.

Myrmecochory

Ants are well known as being important seed dispersers in many ecosystems. Despite decades of research investigating the plants and ants involved in these mutualisms there remain many unanswered questions about these fascinating co-evolved ant-plant relationships. I have been studying two ant species that are keystone seed dispersers in two disparate myrmecochory hotspots.

Martine, C. T., D. Lubertazzi, and A. DuBrul. 2005. The Biology of Corema conradii: Natural History, Reproduction, and Observations of a Post-Fire Seedling Recruitment. Northeastern Naturalist. 12:267-286. PDF

Lubertazzi, D., M. A. A. Lubertazzi, N. McCoy, A. D. Gove, J. D. Majer, and R. R. Dunn. 2010. The ecology of a keystone seed disperser, the ant Rhytidoponera violacea. Journal of Insect Science. 10.158. 15p. PDF

Lubertazzi, D. 2012. The Biology and Natural History of Aphaenogaster rudis. Psyche. Article ID 752815. 11p. doi:10.1155/2012/752815. PDF

The evolution and expression of Sex Ratios

Sex ratio expression has been a well studied subject for many, many years. It has been a fruitful and successful research topic in part because of the simple and elegant predictive models that can be generated from the theory and the relative ease in gathering sex ratio data. The seminal work of Trivers and Hare (1976) allowed social insects to gain an important place in sex ratio research. Despite the commonly held idea that sex ratios in ants strongly support theory, I am investigating why we find such wide variation in the fit between sex ratio expression and theoretical predictions in so many populations of ants.

Lubertazzi, D. and E. S. Adams. 2010. Bayesian analysis of split sex ratios: methods and application to the ant Aphaenogaster rudis. Evolutionary Ecology Research. 12:169-188. PDF

Diversity

I grew up in New Jersey, which is more famous for MTV's Jersey Shore (and other less crazy shore communities) than the its spectacular biodiversity. When I first became interested in ants I was living in Montana attending the University of Montana. I began collecting ants in the Bitterroot Mountains and from there moved on to Florida. There I studied the ant community in the (longleaf) pine flatwoods of the Apalachicola National Forest.

Lubertazzi, D. and W. Tschinkel. 2003. Ant community change across a ground vegetation gradient in north Florida's longleaf pine flatwoods. Journal of Insect Science. 3.21. 17 p. PDF

My current biodiversity research is focused on Caribbean ants.