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Animals 2013, 3(1), 63-84; doi:10.3390/ani3010063
Article

Early Results of Three-Year Monitoring of Red Wood Ants’ Behavioral Changes and Their Possible Correlation with Earthquake Events

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Received: 14 December 2012; in revised form: 25 January 2013 / Accepted: 28 January 2013 / Published: 4 February 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biological Anomalies Prior to Earthquakes)
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Simple Summary: For three years (2009–2012), two red wood ant mounds (Formica rufa-group), located at the seismically active Neuwied Basin (Eifel, Germany), have been monitored 24/7 by high-resolution cameras. Early results show that ants have a well-identifiable standard daily routine. Correlation with local seismic events suggests changes in the ants’ behavior hours before the earthquake: the nocturnal rest phase and daily activity are suppressed, and standard daily routine does not resume until the next day. At present, an automated image evaluation routine is being applied to the video streams. Based on this automated approach, a statistical analysis of the ant behavior will be carried out.
Abstract: Short-term earthquake predictions with an advance warning of several hours or days are currently not possible due to both incomplete understanding of the complex tectonic processes and inadequate observations. Abnormal animal behaviors before earthquakes have been reported previously, but create problems in monitoring and reliability. The situation is different with red wood ants (RWA; Formica rufa-group (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)). They have stationary mounds on tectonically active, gas-bearing fault systems. These faults may be potential earthquake areas. For three years (2009–2012), two red wood ant mounds (Formica rufa-group), located at the seismically active Neuwied Basin (Eifel, Germany), have been monitored 24/7 by high-resolution cameras with both a color and an infrared sensor. Early results show that ants have a well-identifiable standard daily routine. Correlation with local seismic events suggests changes in the ants’ behavior hours before the earthquake: the nocturnal rest phase and daily activity are suppressed, and standard daily routine does not resume until the next day. At present, an automated image evaluation routine is being applied to the more than 45,000 hours of video streams. Based on this automated approach, a statistical analysis of the ants’ behavior will be carried out. In addition, other parameters (climate, geotectonic and biological), which may influence behavior, will be included in the analysis.
Keywords: red wood ants’ behavioral changes; earthquakes; long-term in situ monitoring; automated image evaluation routine; statistical analyses; tectonically active faults red wood ants’ behavioral changes; earthquakes; long-term in situ monitoring; automated image evaluation routine; statistical analyses; tectonically active faults
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Berberich, G.; Berberich, M.; Grumpe, A.; Wöhler, C.; Schreiber, U. Early Results of Three-Year Monitoring of Red Wood Ants’ Behavioral Changes and Their Possible Correlation with Earthquake Events. Animals 2013, 3, 63-84.

AMA Style

Berberich G, Berberich M, Grumpe A, Wöhler C, Schreiber U. Early Results of Three-Year Monitoring of Red Wood Ants’ Behavioral Changes and Their Possible Correlation with Earthquake Events. Animals. 2013; 3(1):63-84.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Berberich, Gabriele; Berberich, Martin; Grumpe, Arne; Wöhler, Christian; Schreiber, Ulrich. 2013. "Early Results of Three-Year Monitoring of Red Wood Ants’ Behavioral Changes and Their Possible Correlation with Earthquake Events." Animals 3, no. 1: 63-84.


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