“For us, the ants have never lost their fascination,” says Birgit Schlick-Steiner, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Innsbruck. Together with her husband Florian Steiner she has been studying these animals and their extraordinarily cooperative behaviour for years. She has also observed how invasive species are increasingly crowding out the native fauna. Despite their social behaviour, ants also engage in fierce territorial battles. “These fights are a matter of life and death.” Funding from the Austrian Science Fund FWF, has enabled the two researchers to develop methods to decipher the genetic particularities of these creatures.

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