Orphan workers are more resilient in leaf-cutting ants

March 9, 2021

Social insect workers typically do not lay their own eggs but would do anything (including sacrificing their lives) to support their queen. The queen is the only individual producing offspring. Worker that focus on working and do not bother with reproduction are simply more efficient at their job. Once the queen dies, however, workers of

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PhD position: Ant nestmate recognition, Freiburg, Germany

July 15, 2019

Application deadline: August 11th, 2019 Social insects typically cooperate with their nestmates but attack intruders, and they make their decisions based on odours individuals bear on their surface. Our lab would like to better understand how ants can know what their nestmates smell like. We offer a 3-year PhD position (65% TV-L E13, DFG-funded) for

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Rapid adaptation in a life history trait

November 8, 2018

Life history traits are closely linked to fitness so that selection often leaves only little room for variation. Take an organism in an environment where the optimal offspring number is ten. Perhaps the organism cannot feed more then ten offspring, and trying to raise more would result in the death of all offspring. On the

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Hosting @realsci_de – science communication via Twitter

July 15, 2018

Lending ants an ear – please welcome our new curator @VolkerNehring over at German-language @realsci_DE! https://t.co/HeEsuLmgg5 — RealScientists Mods (@RealSciMods) October 2, 2017 In October 2017 I tweeted for @realsci_de for a a week, a German derivative (warning: German tweets below) of @realscientists. These are Twitter accounts curated by real scientists and science communicators on

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DZG-Graduiertentreffen 2018 in Freiburg

April 24, 2018

Im März 2018 haben wir in Freiburg das Graduiertentreffen der DZG-Fachgruppe Evolutionsbiologie zum Thema “Life History Evolution” ausgerichtet. Die Hauptarbeit haben dabei die Doktoranden der Abteilung für Evolutionsbiologie und Ökologie gestemmt, namentlich Daniel Elsner, Manuel Monroy Kuhn, Jana Mähner, Victoria Moris, Thomas Pauli, Petra Schedwill, Lena Waidele und Yun Wang. Finanzielle Unterstützung kam von der

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Chemical strategies of social parasites

August 21, 2015

Social parasites enter social insect colonies and harm their fitness. In case of the leaf-cutting ant parasite Acromyrmex insinuator, the host is essentially castrated. Of course the host colonies try to avoid this type of fate. Their nestmate recognition systems are sensitive enough to detect and reject most intruders (see the image for what happens

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Student assistants wanted

August 20, 2014

Artificial selection in mites Parasitic mite development time is a crucial adaptation to the mite hosts. We will conduct an artificial selection experiment to analyse this trait and its correlation with other important mite traits. I am looking for student assistants who will run the experiment. Daily checks of the mite lines will be required,

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Noise in chemical communication

June 11, 2014

Communication is always constrained by noise. Imagine a finch calling for mates along a busy road during rush hour. Car noise will make it quite difficult for his fellow urban birds to hear him at all. It must be all easier in a peaceful forest, don’t you think? Perhaps not. Forests are full of birds,

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Confirmation bias in behavioural experiments

June 4, 2013

The data confirmed your expectations? That’s great, you were right from the beginning – or where you tricked by what is called confirmation bias – you only saw what you wanted to see? Although the effect is typically strongest with emotionally charged subjects (think gun control), it can be a serious problem in scientific experiments

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