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Leaf cutter ant foraging

By Jeremy M Wojdak1, Justin Touchon2, Myra Hughey2

1. Radford University 2. Vassar College

This module introduces students to leaf-cutter ants in the rainforests of Panama. Students derive their own research hypotheses regarding ant foraging or allometric scaling relationships.

Listed in Teaching Materials | resource by group AIMS: Analyzing Images to learn Mathematics and Statistics

Version 1.0 - published on 24 Aug 2018 doi:10.25334/Q4RB0M - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms



This module was created as a way to give students a realistic, open-inquiry research experience, even when lab or field research is not possible. Students are introduced to leaf-cutter ants and how they forage, provided with images and videos, and are asked to develop a hypothesis, plan a study, collect real primary data, and analyze the data. Minimally the experience can take a couple of hours of class time and some report writing as homework. On the other end, full research papers or posters could be the product of a more rigorous research experience.

Potential Learning Objectives:


  • Students will be able to generate meaningful scientific hypotheses given a context for study.
  • Students will use image analysis software to generate data from an image set.
  • Students will be able to conduct and interpret linear regression analyses (including R2, p-values, hypothesis testing, slopes/y-intercepts), given data they've collected.
  • Students will write a results section in typical scientific literature format.


  • Students will be able to construct and interpret frequency histograms.
  • Students will apply programming concepts to automate a series of procedures.
  • Students will be able to conduct appropriate statistical analysis for a categorical independent and numerical dependent variable.


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AIMS: Analyzing Images to learn Mathematics and Statistics

AIMS: Analyzing Images to learn Mathematics and Statistics group image

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