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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Wingless warrior queens in the media III

October 1, 2012

The Acromyrmex queens made it to Austria, and some more newspapers printed articles: Failed young queens must labour as lowly commoners, New Scientist 19.9.2012, issue 2883 p. 14 Neuanfang für Ameisen, Welt am Sonntag, 23.9.2012 (German) Ab in die Produktion, Junge Welt vom 27.9.2012, page 15 (German) Königinnen können notgedrungen zu Kriegerinnen werden, Der,

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Wingless warrior queens in the media II

September 18, 2012

There are still some people picking up our story on wingless Acromyrmex queens. First of all, Mischa Dijkstra wrote a nice little highlight in his blog. Then an article has been printed on the Science pages of the newspaper Darmstädter Echo (German). And further there is a bunch of articles in all kinds of languages,

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Wingless warrior queens in the media

September 14, 2012

Our article on wingless virgin queens that defend their colonies received quite some attention by the media, in particular in Germany. Among the english language websites that covered the story were The New Scientist and Science Daily: The New Scientist: Spinster queens become commoners Science Daily:Princesses Become Warriors: Young Queens of Leafcutter Ants Change Roles

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Amazon-like female warriors protect societies of farming ants

September 10, 2012

Large societies of ants and humans have standing armies with professional soldiers, but smaller societies usually rely on conscription when they are threatened. Leaf-cutting ant societies of intermediate size have evolved the peculiar practice of turning daughter queens that failed to mate and disperse into life time nest-defenders, reminiscent of mythical female warriors whose normal

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GfÖ Annual Meeting

August 21, 2012

My next conference will be in Lüneburg: It’s the 42nd “Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland”, from 10 to 14 September 2012. Looking forward to seeing you there! I will present work on myrmecophilous cockroaches that live in leaf-cutter ant colonie, in a Chemical Ecology symposium on Thursday.

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Social insect sisters smell alike

December 29, 2010

This press release is also available in Danish (på Dansk). In social insect colonies, workers generally cooperate within extended families consisting of full- and half-sisters. It has been suggested that they do not behave nepotistically, i.e. prefer to cooperate with full-sisters only, because they are not able to distinguish between half- and full sisters Actually,

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