Insect-imaging project at Harvard University chooses Auto-Montage

DECEMBER 11--Researchers at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) are using Syncroscopy (Cambridge, UK; www.syncroscopy.com) Auto-Montage to generate in-depth images of ants, as part of an on-going cataloging project that aims to produce definitive images of the 11,000 recognized ant species and to help identify new ones.

DECEMBER 11--Researchers at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) are using Syncroscopy (Cambridge, UK; www.syncroscopy.com) Auto-Montage to generate in-depth images of ants, as part of a large, on-going cataloging project that aims to produce definitive images of the 11,000 recognized ant species and to help identify new ones, as they are collected from countries such as Madagascar and the Philippines. Gary Alpert, an entomologist in the environmental health and safety department, said: "There may be as many as 20,000 ant species in the world. Ants are found all over the world, and the presence or absence of certain species can indicate how much damage is being done to an area by activities such as mining, deforestation, or wars. Therefore, it is vitally important to ensure that all species are correctly identified.

"Since we have to record at least four images of different parts of each ant to identify it, without automation it would take us forever to accurately catalog the 11,000 known species, and we would have no time to check potential new ones. Using Auto-Montage is helping us rapidly catch up with cataloging. It is not only saving time by automating the process, but it also produces quality, in-depth images, something we have found impossible to do by other methods," added Alpert.

Bob Town, Syncroscopy general sales manager, commented: "It is exciting to see Auto-Montage being used so widely by entomologists at Harvard. These researchers have so much confidence in the system that the images generated are being used to create Web sites of, for example, ant species of countries such as Japan, and means Auto-Montage is being recognized internationally as the best method of producing high-resolution insect images."

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