Corny Time for All

We decided to celebrate the fall by visiting a corn maze, and for those who could make it, we consumed large quantities of kettle corn, petted some animals, and destroyed pumpkins using slingshots and a cannon. Notably we did not get lost in the corn and no actual pain was caused by reading the “Cornundrums” placed throughout the maze.

Our intrepid team. Andreia and Rachel on the higher hay bales, and Matt, Itachi, and Aimee below.
We didn’t get lost.
We never found all the CORNundrums throughout the maze… and we weren’t going back in either.

On preparedness in pollination

Aimee gave a talk at the European Society of Evolutionary Biology meeting in Turku, Finland on something that she and Andreia have been working on. It was part of a really great symposium on eco-evo feedbacks in pollination. The whole symposium is on YouTube, but here’s a link to Aimee’s talk.

Let Aimee and Andreia know if you have any thoughts! Andreia is working on a manuscript on preparedness in pollination right now with Aimee, and Aimee is working on a manuscript on the evolution of preparedness with Andreia.

Animal Behavior Society Meeting 2019

We were lucky this year to have the annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society very close: just a train ride away in Chicago. That it was a joint meeting with the International Ethological Congress made the travel even easier.

With Michael keeping the fly research going and Andreia in the field in Florida, the rest of us headed to Chicago. Matt gave a talk on his bumble bee museum study plus some new data from field work, Rachel gave a poster on her first year project on risk sensitivity in bumble bees, Tian gave her first ever meeting poster on the preliminary data from her senior project on colony learning in bumble bees, and Aimee talked about data from our long-running producer-scrounger bumble bee project. It was a busy week full of workshops, talks, and catching up with colleagues.

New Paper on Bumble Bee Decision-Making in Complex Environments

A new paper from the lab, published in Behavioral Ecology, assesses how bumble bee foraging decisions are affected by interactions between co-occurring traits of floral communities. Using a full factorial experimental design, this study examines how flower number, signal complexity, and nectar reliability affect which flowers bumble bees choose to feed from. The results show that all of these traits significantly affect bumble bee decision-making and, notably, that bumble bees forage more selectively when many options are present.

The paper can be found here:

Figure 1.jpg

Congratulations on student grants and fellowships

It has been a busy semester of grant and proposal writing for most of the students in the lab, and while many have not yet heard about their proposals, we do have some nice outcomes to celebrate.

This has been a record fall for successful student grants from the Harris World Ecology Center. PhD student Andreia Figueiredo received a grant to continue her field tests of cognition in orchid bees in Florida. MS student Michael Austin received a grant to complete a series of experiments on operating costs of learning in experimentally evolved flies. MS student Mladen Senicar will have funding to work on confocal imaging of experimentally evolved fly brains, and complete some qPCR measures of genes involved in brain development. And last, but not least, undergraduate Tian Manning was awarded funds to test bumble bee colonies for variance in learning abilities across their colony lifespan. Congratulations to everyone for their hard work writing, editing, and giving such excellent feedback to each other on drafts.

We are also celebrating that Matt Austin, who achieved PhD candidacy status earlier this semester, was awarded a Peter Raven Fellowship to enable him to spend his spring semester finishing up some bench work and then join the bumble bee queens in the field when they first emerge.

Looking forward to a very productive spring semester!