Ana Ješovnik, SI Research Associate
My broad interests are evolution, phylogenetics, and natural history of ants. I researched the fungus-farming (attine) ant genus Sericomyrmex to answer the questions about speciation and ant-fungus coevolution, using phylogenomics and traditional morphological methods. Sericomyrmex is, as I discovered, a most recently evolved genus of attine ants, an example of recent rapid radiation.
Currently I am collaborating on a project that will look into what is the chemical composition and biological function of a white, crystal-like layer that covers the bodies of Sericomyrmex workers and queens.
I am also interested in insect conservation. Through Croatian Myrmecological Society, a non-governmental organization with focus on ants, I am working on determining the ant species that could serve as a model for insect conservation in Croatia. Also, by conducting projects focused on ants we are trying to address the problem of taxonomical bias in science; a general tendency to favor some groups of organisms (mainly vertebrates and plants) over others (mainly invertebrates) in research programs and conservation planning. The ecological importance of ants, their biomass and dominance in terrestrial habitats makes them practical for collecting and monitoring, and their fast response to environmental change makes them useful as indicators of climate change. Within the Croatian Myrmecological Society we are also interested in ecology of ants in cities, including their response to disturbance and raising temperatures, as well as using ants as bioindicators of soil quality, land management, and sustainable agriculture.
Evolutionary biology, taxonomy, and ecology of ants, insect conservation.
- Evolution of fungus-farming (attine) ants, especially genus Sericomyrmex.
- Biodiversity and ecology of Croatian ant fauna.
- Curation and data basing of Croatian Myrmecological Society ant collection.
Grants & Awards:
- 2017 IUSSI Central European section conference support, University of Würzburg.
- 2014 Peter Buck Fellowship, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., USA.
- 2014 Teaching Achievement Award, University of Maryland, USA.
- 2014 International Conference Student Support Award, University of Maryland, USA.
- 2014 Jacob K. Goldhaber Travel Grant, University of Maryland, USA.
- 2014 Frankopan Fund Award, Staples Trust, London, UK.
- 2013 2nd place, Oral Papers Student Competition, Entomological Society of America.
- 2013 Student Travel Award, Entomological Society of America.
- 2013 Max and Vera Britton Environmental Science Award, Cosmos Club Foundation.
- 2012 Exploration and Field Research Grant, Explorers Club Washington.
- 2012 Ernst Mayr Travel Grant in Animal Systematics, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA.
- 2009 Science and education grant for NGOs, Croatian Ministry of Science, Zagreb, Croatia.
Ješovnik A, Chaul J & Schultz TR (2018): Nest architecture and natural history of the fungus-farming ant genus Sericomyrmex (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Myrmecological News 26.
Sosa-Calvo J, Ješovnik A, Vasconcelos HL, Bacci M Jr & Schultz TR (2017): Rediscovery of the enigmatic fungus-farming ant "Mycetosoritis" asper Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): Implications for taxonomy, phylogeny, and the evolution of agriculture in ants. PLOS One 12(5): e0176498.
Branstetter, M.G., Ješovnik, A., Sosa-Calvo, J., Lloyd, M.W., Faircloth, B.C., Brady, S.G., and Schultz, T.R. (2017): Dry habitats were crucibles of domestication in the evolution of agriculture in ants. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B. 284: 20170095. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0095
Ješovnik A, Sosa-Calvo J, Lloyd M, Branstetter M, Fernandez F & Schultz TR (2016): Phylogenomic species delimitation and host-symbiont coevolution in the fungus-farming ant genus Sericomyrmex Mayr (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): Ultraconserved elements (UCEs) resolve a recent radiation. Systematic Entomology.
Sosa-Calvo J, Ješovnik A, Lopes C, Rodrigues A, Rabeling C, Bacci M Jr, Vasconcelos HL & Schultz TR (2017): Biology of the relict fungus-farming ant Apterostigma megacephala Lattke, including descriptions of the male, gyne, and larva. Insectes Sociaux. Link: http://rdcu.be/pHEX
Ješovnik A, González VL, Schultz TR (2016): Phylogenomics and Divergence Dating of Fungus-Farming Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) of the Genera Sericomyrmex and Apterostigma. PLoS ONE 11(7): e0151059.doi:10.1371/journal. pone.0151059
Jesovnik, A., Sosa-Calvo, J., Lopes, C., Vasconcelos, H., Schultz, T. R. 2013. Nest architecture, fungus gardens, queen, males and larvae of the fungus-growing ant Mycetagroicus inflatus Brandão & Mayhé-Nunes. Insectes Sociaux 60(4): 531-542.
Jesovnik, A., Bujan, J. & Bracko, G. 2011. One genus and three species of ants (Hymenoptera : Formicidae) new for Croatia. Entomologica Croatica 15: 113-122.
Seric Jelaska, L., Jesovnik, A., Jelaska, S. D, Kucinic, M., Durbesic, P. & Pirnat, A. 2010. Variations of carabid beetle and ant assemblages, and their morpho-ecological traits within natural temperate forests in Medvednica Nature Park. Journal of Croatia Forestry Society: Sumarski list 9-10: 475-486.
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