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Imaging software aids ant classification

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Researchers at the Punjabi University Patiala in India are using Syncroscopy's Auto-Montage Pro 3D image reconstruction software to produce a classification guide of some of the world's most unusual ant species.

Researchers in the Department of Zoology are using a Nikon 1500 microscope and Auto-Montage Pro software to produce in-focus 3D images of ants from around India and the Himalayas. Using Auto-Montage Pro, the scientists have generated thousands of images of around 100 different ant species, many of which have never been properly identified and classified before.

Dr Himender Bharti, assistant professor, said: 'Many ants found in the Himalayas have developed interesting physical characteristics to cope with living in such a harsh environment. A large number of these features have not been documented and so an important part of ant evolution is being overlooked. This is why we need to generate accurate images of these species to complete this part of the ant classification.

'Before we installed AutoMontage Pro software, we used to produce pictures of Indian ants with ink drawings or using a digital camera, but the pictures couldn't show the fine detail we required. Now, using Auto-Montage Pro we have been able to generate excellent images of our ant collection and we intend to produce a book showing the characteristics of each species using these images.'