Amy has long
been fascinated by the underlying patterns structuring the evolution and
ecology of diverse insect groups.
Professional Title: Assistant Professor
Area of Work and Concentration at Lesley: Biology
Representative List of Recent Courses Taught: Biology with Lab; Animal Behavior; Ecology and Natural
Education: BS, University of Minnesota; PhD, Boston
Representative List of Recent Publications / Exhibitions: Mertl AL, Ryder Wilkie KT, Constantino R, and Traniello JFA. 2012. Ecological associations of two species-rich insect taxa in the litter-layer of an Amazonian rainforest: is there a relationship between ants and termites? Psyche doi:10.1155/2012/312054Mertl AL, Traniello JFA. 2011. Review of Ant Ecology, Lach L, Parr C and Abbott K (Eds.). For the Entomological Society of AmericaMertl AL, Sorenson MD, Traniello JFA. 2010. Community-level interactions and functional ecology of major workers in the hyperdiverse ground-foraging Pheidole (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) community of Amazonian Ecuador. Insectes Sociaux 57(4): 441-452Mertl AL, Ryder Wilkie KT, Traniello JFA. 2009. Impact of flooding on the species richness, density and composition of Amazonian litter-nesting ants. Biotropica 41(5): 633-641Mertl AL, Traniello JFA. 2009. Behavioral evolution in the major worker subcaste of twig- nesting Pheidole (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): Does morphological specialization influence task plasticity? Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 63(10): 1411-1426Ryder Wilkie KT, Mertl AL, Traniello JFA. 2010. Species diversity and distribution patterns of the ants of Amazonian Ecuador. PLoS ONE 5(10): e13146.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013146
Amy Mertl completed her PhD at Boston University, where she investigated the ground-dwelling ant and termite fauna of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Long fascinated by the underlying patterns structuring the evolution and ecology of diverse insect groups, she investigated the evolution of caste-based division of labor and interspecific competition, as well as how faunal communities respond to ecological disturbance gradients. She spent over 12 months in the field in the Amazon and parts of Central America. She also constructed a molecular phylogeny for 45 tropical ant species in the genus Pheidole by sequencing three mitochondrial genes, demonstrating the deep evolutionary divergence of this fauna. Her current research involves investigating the diversity, ecology and structure of ant and termite communities in New England forests. This project currently engages Lesley students and community members in citizen science projects. Amy also has a background in using film and video as educational tools. Prior to joining the faculty at Lesley, she worked as a senior scientific editor for the Journal of Visualized Experiments and taught scientific documentary making to teenagers and adults in the Cambridge community. She has co-produced several short documentaries through Project Documentary at CCTV, including “Ants” an award-winning short film on her favorite tiny subjects (https://www.cctvcambridge.org/ants).
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