With funding from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, the DNA Learning Center launched a pilot project, Barcoding US Ants, to show the feasibility of citizen scientists using DNA barcodes to identify and map the ant species of the United States. Barcoding US Ants merges citizen science with DNA barcoding to improve range maps for the ants of the United States. Citizen scientists collect and identify ants at locations throughout the US by monitoring ants' ranges and contribute to data that reveals responses to climate change or the movement of invasive species. Current range maps are fragmentary, and DNA barcodes exist for only half of the 900 species known species of ant in the US. Additionally, sequence variation within species may also be discovered and reveal species diversity or allow tracking of sub populations. Thus, this project can contribute new, valuable knowledge about an important group of insects that is both familiar and unknown, and aims to publish several hundred DNA barcodes to GenBank, the authoritative DNA database.
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