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Urban Ant Collector

Hey! It's time to collect ants!

Do you want to learn how to find, collect and record information about ants exactly like a professional scientist? Follow the Urban Ant Collector instructions and you'll be ready to join a global effort to record data that will help researchers advance our understanding of biodiversity and our planet. Ants are incredible, especially because they act as a special "keystone" species that can indicate just how healthy and diverse all the plants and animals are. So, let's get started!

The Urban Ant Collector app is an Android app that allows you to collect and record data just like a professional scientist. It uses Open Data Kit, a free and open-source set of tools which help organizations author, field, and manage mobile data collection solutions.

Each time you find an ant in a new location, you'll use this app to:

  1. Photograph the ant
  2. Enter basic information on the ant's location
  3. Enter basic information about yourself, the collector
  4. Create a collection number for mailing a sample specimen to the California Academy of Sciences

Here's what you'll need to do to get up and running:

First off, you'll need to have an Android phone.

Next, you'll want to go to the Android Marketplace and search for the "ODK Collect" app. Once you've found it, install it onto your phone.

Once that's done, open up your applications, find the "ODK Collect" icon, and press it.

ODK Collect Icon

Now you'll need to configure the server preferences to point to the Ant Collector form. You can do this by pressing the "menu" button (likely between the "back" and "home" buttons on your phone - it's circled below to address the differences between Android versions).

Context Menu

Press the "Server Preferences" button, then press the "Server" option to change the server to "" as seen below.

Set Server Set Server

Set Server

Now that you've done that, you'll need to download the Ant Collector form. Go to "Manage Forms and Data", and get the form by clicking on "Get New Forms".

Manage Forms and Data Get Form

Press the tick box next to "Ant Collector App.xml", then click "Get Selected".

Get Selected

And now you have the form. To use the Ant Collector, go to "Start New Form",

Start New

Press "Ant Collector App Form"...

The Form

And you're off! Go out and find an ant! As you walk down the sidewalk, on a hiking trail, or in a public park, be on the lookout for ants on the ground, under stones, or within rotting logs and leaf litter. You can even record ants found at home, school, or work.

You don't need to record more than one ant from the same exact location, since they are likely of the same colony. However, if you think you spot two different species battling for territory, please submit two separate records!

When you finish with the Ant Collector app, you'll want to press the tick box that says "Mark Data as Finished", then press "Save Data and Exit". Once you've done that, press on "Send Finished Data".

The Form The Form

Press the tick box next to "Ant Collector Form Data", then press "Send Selected", and your data will be sent to us!

The Form

It might take a couple of minutes, as you're sending images as well as your information about the ant.

Click here to learn how to send your specimens into the California Academy of Sciences.