Events at the MPIAB

Location: ZT 702 and Online

CASCB talk: Collective nest building in leaf-cutting ants

CASCB talk by Flavio Roces
  • Date: Jun 27, 2022
  • Time: 11:45 AM - 12:45 PM
  • Speaker: Flavio Roces
  • Flavio Roces is a Professor at the Department of Behavioral Physiology and Sociobiology, Biocenter, University of Würzburg, Germany. He is the head of the group “Behavioral Ecology” that investigates decision making and the mechanisms underlying the organization of ant colonies. After earning a PhD in zoology from the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina), he worked as a postdoc at the University of Erlangen (Germany), and finally moved to the University of Würzburg. His studies are aimed, in a broad sense, to analyze the link between worker behavior and colony function, and combine physiological and behavioral research in the lab with ecological studies in the field.
  • Location: ZT 702 and Online
  • Room: ZT 702
  • Host: Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour
Leaf-cutting ants build the largest and most complex nest among ants, composed of chambers for the maintenance of fungus gardens and the deposition of colony waste, and conspicuous turrets for air exchanges. In my talk, I will present experimental studies that explore the behavioral rules ants use while building, their responses to relevant environmental variables such as CO2, temperature, and relative humidity, and their use of social information, which ultimately lead to the emergence of a functional nest structure. Finally, I will address the question whether ants, besides the expected use of local information, also use remote information during nest building that may account for the observed plasticity in nest design. [more]

CASCB talk: The self-assembling horde: building functional structures on the move by Simon Garnier

A defining characteristic of army ants is the mobility of their colonies that relocate their massive populations sometimes every day, in search of new hunting grounds. That nomadic lifestyle is met with many logistical challenges posed by the complex and unpredictable terrains of the tropical forests these ants inhabit. In response, they have evolved the ability to build temporary support structures by dynamically attaching to and detaching from each other. These - literally - living architectures assemble and disassemble themselves to bridge gaps along the ants' foraging and migratory trails, form scaffolding to facilitate movement along steep surfaces, and even provide shelter to up to a million individuals at a time. During this talk, I will present recent findings on the principles that govern army ant self-assembling into complex, dynamical, and functional structures. I will focus on the behavioral mechanisms that allow these constructions to rapidly adapt to changing environmental conditions and to be resilient in the face of disruption. Finally, I will briefly discuss how these results fit into our general understanding of biological self-assembly and how they can impact areas in engineering interested in the design of complex systems for hard-to-predict and noisy environments.Simon Garnier is an Associate Professor in the Biology Department at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is the head of the Swarmlab, an interdisciplinary research lab that studies how stupid creatures can - sometimes - be smart in group, and why very smart beings will - often - form brainless crowds. In particular, the lab investigates how interactions between the different parts of a group can lead to extraordinarily efficient collective solutions, as well as snowballing catastrophes. This knowledge can then be used to solve complex problems such as the organization of traffic, the control of robotic swarms, and the functioning of large- scale social networks.Join the meeting onlineMeeting-ID: 950 9854 6920Kenncode: 437219 [more]

CASCB talk: Neurogenetics of social affiliation in zebrafish by Johannes Larsch

Many species live in groups and affiliate with conspecifics upon sensory detection and processing of social information. However, investigating sensory processing during social behavior is inherently difficult because in most cases, the mutual interactions between individuals and the resulting sensory experience are beyond experimental control.We investigate affiliation pathways in juvenile zebrafish in the context of shoaling, the innate and perpetual drive to swim in groups with continuously moving conspecifics. Using virtual reality psychophysics, we recently identified self-like biological motion as one visual trigger of shoaling. We now use the tools available in zebrafish for genetic screening and unbiased mapping of whole-brain activity and anatomy to reveal the neuronal implementation of shoaling. We traced biological motion into the brain and discovered a specifically tuned tecto-thalamic visual pathway that detects this social signal and drives shoaling. To reveal sources of behavioral individuality and to establish molecular entry points, we examine how natural genetic polymorphisms and a panel of 100 mutations in genes implicated in human neuropsychiatric syndromes affect shoaling and the neuronal processing of social cues. Thus, we can now investigate how individuals coordinate social affiliation at the interface of behavioral algorithms, neuronal circuits, and genetic factors.Johannes Larsch studied Biology at the University of Konstanz, Germany and The Rockefeller University, NYC, U.S.A. with Prof. Leslie Vosshall and Prof. Giovanni Galizia. He did his PhD in 2014 at The Rockefeller University, NYC, U.S.A. with Prof. Cori Bargmann. In 2015, he joined the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsried, Germany, as a postdoc, and in 2018 became MPI project leader of his research program investigating how the brain controls swarm behavior.Join the meeting onlineMeeting-ID: 950 9854 6920Kenncode: 437219 [more]

CASCB talk: When, who and what to copy - dynamic learning strategies in wild birds by Sonja Wild

After finishing her BSc in Biology and MSc in Anthropology at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, Sonja Wild moved to the UK to continue her studies with a PhD at the University of Leeds. Since 2019, Sonja has been a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour (CASCB), University of Konstanz & Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, Radolfzell, Germany, collaborating on starter project A4: „Mechanisms underlying heterogeneity in social learning between individuals and groups.“Join the meeting onlineMeeting-ID: 950 9854 6920Kenncode: 437219 [more]
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