Ecology of social behavior

Animal groups vary both in size and composition, both of which can have profound impacts on group performance. Because of their small colony size, ecological diversity, and unique annual life cycle, bumblebees (Bombus spp) are a great model for understanding the links between individual behavior, collective performance, and environmental conditions. We are especially interested in using bumblebees to study how social phenotypes (e.g., colony development and intra-colony phenotypic diversity) drive group performance, and how they vary between and within species along ecological gradients.

Pollinators and global change

Bees and other animal pollinators are critically important for biodiversity, as well as global crop productivity and human nutrition. Many aspects of environmental change in the Anthropocene impact bees, including agrochemical exposure, altered landscapes, pathogens, and climate change. Critically, these individual stressors often interact, exacerbating their isolated effects. We are interested in understanding the impacts of these stressors and the organismal basis of their interactions on bees. Current projects include studying interactions between neonicotinoid pesticides and temperature stress, and the effects of elevated CO2 on bees' nutritional landscape.

Foraging behavior and plant-pollinator interactions

The interaction between flowering plants and bees has shaped the evolution of both groups and is central to the delivery of crop pollination in services in agroecosystems. We are interested in understanding these interactions integrating from the organismal scale (i.e., flight physiology, biomechanics, and foraging behavior) to the ecology of plant-pollinator networks. We are especially interested in the role of phenotypic and species diversity in plant-pollinator networks, and developing scalable, automated tools for addressing these questions in both unmanaged and agricultural ecosystems.

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