1630 Linden Dr
Madison, WI 53706
Behavior and ecology of social insects, especially social wasps, their evolution, defensive mechanisms, colony size, division of labor, organization of work, communication, and nest architecture. Students in my lab are working on both temperate zone and tropical species. One project on yellowjackets in Wisconsin focuses on foraging behavior, including recruitment of nestmates and chemical cues used in food location. A second addresses the question of whether colony organization changes as the colony grows during the season. In Costa Rica we are investigating the relationship between the size of a group and the properties of emergent group behavior. Using the organization of nest construction in the tropical swarm-founding epiponine Polybia occidentalis as a paradigm, we are investigating the effects of group size, worker age/fat content, and parasitism on individual work rate, mortality rate, per capita productivity, tempo, and, ultimately, colony life history strategy. We are also analyzing the mechanisms by which task groups interact to regulate nest construction and respond to perturbations in nest construction activity.