The research in the lab is guided by our overarching interest in the evolution of sociality and cognitve functioning and how inter-individual variation contributes to these two processes. Individuals within a group are not the same in terms of their abilities - how good or bad they are in terms of various things they can do and understanding this variability and its impact is crucial for insights into the processes that guide the dynamics of social living. The ecological success of social groups is often attributed to the diversity of individuals within them but on the other hand the focus is generally on average patterns that routinely ignore or downlplay the nature of the observed variation.
Understanding the genetic, environmental and developmental causes that through gene x environment interactions drive the interindividual variation in physiology and behavior, and the evolutionary consequences of this variation help us understand the cooperation and conflict that characterize social life and shape the life history of social animals. Borrowing ideas from a variety of theoretical frameworks such as Pace of Life and Behavioral Syndromes, Optimal Foraging Theory, Nutritional Geometry, Foraging and Social Brain hypotheses, Social Network theory, Life history theory, etc., we focus our interests on interindividual differences in metabolic and cognitive capacities as these two arguably are the most fundamental mechanisms that define an individul's performance. We use honeybees as an experimental model to test these ideas as they are ideal to explore a large number of these processes and patterns at both the individual and the group/social level. We try to answer these kinds of questions using a mix of experimental work in behavior, physiology, and genetics and theoretical pursuits based on individual based modeling.
Browsing through our recent publications is a good way of figuring out the kind of things that we're currently doing in the lab.