Walter Tschinkel has spent much of his career investigating the hidden subterranean realm of ant nests. This wonderfully illustrated book takes you inside an unseen world where thousands of ants build intricate homes in the soil beneath our feet.
Tschinkel describes the ingenious methods he has devised to study ant nests, showing how he fills a nest with plaster, molten metal, or wax and painstakingly excavates the cast. He guides you through living ant nests chamber by chamber, revealing how nests are created and how colonies function. How does nest architecture vary across species? Do ants have “architectural plans”? How do nests affect our environment? As he delves into these and other questions, Tschinkel provides a one-of-a-kind natural history of the planet’s most successful creatures and a compelling firsthand account of a life of scientific discovery.
Offering a unique look at how simple methods can lead to pioneering science, Ant Architecture addresses the unsolved mysteries of underground ant nests while charting new directions for tomorrow’s research, and reflects on the role of beauty in nature and the joys of shoestring science.
Walter R. Tschinkel is professor emeritus of biological science at Florida State University and a world authority on ant biology. He is the author of The Fire Ants. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.
"Among the most notable achievements of ants in their evolution has been the instinctive construction of their complex nests and trails. In this remarkable book, Tschinkel outlines the pioneering methods he has used to reveal their many secrets. The result is a major achievement in the study of animal social behavior."
– Edward O. Wilson, University Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
"In this deeply educational and wildly fun book, Tschinkel takes readers on a tour of the belowground world of ants. What makes this book stand out is that it combines witty writing, beautiful illustrations, in-depth scientific knowledge, and how-to instructions to explore ant colonies on your own. Ant Architecture is a must-have for any naturalist or lover of nature."
– Corrie Moreau, Cornell University
"Walter Tschinkel has spent decades studying the architecture of ant nests built underground in Florida's sandy soils. This book describes a wealth of discoveries – and exposes many mysteries – about the lives of ant colonies. Ant Architecture is absorbing, meticulous, and delightfully written, exploring a truly hidden part of the natural world."
– Thomas D. Seeley, author of Honeybee Democracy and The Lives of Bees
"An ant colony builds a nest that channels the flow of ants and activities, and every species does it differently. In this beautifully illustrated book, Tschinkel shows how he developed the excavation and casting of underground ant nests into scientific art at its best, and takes us through the adventures and scientific thinking behind his detailed study of the nests of seed-eating ants in the sandy soil of northern Florida."
– Deborah M. Gordon, author of Ant Encounters
"This engagingly written book provides an excellent, comprehensive look at one of the key features of all highly evolved social insects – the elaborate construction of their nests. This is masterful science presented with striking clarity, charm, and wit."
– Bert Hölldobler, coauthor of The Superorganism: The Beauty, Elegance, and Strangeness of Insect Societies
"This enjoyable book provides the most detailed and accessible account of the belowground world of ants and the ingenious ways that scientists study them."
– Scott Solomon, author of Future Humans: Inside the Science of Our Continuing Evolution