Meet your neighbors! An introduction to social insects

Mathematical Biology Seminar
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 - 11:00am for 1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Skiles 255
Michael Goodisman – School of Biology, Georgia Tech
Christine Heitsch
The evolution of sociality represented one of the major transition points in biological history. Highly social animals such as social insects dominate ecological communities because of their complex cooperative and helping behaviors. We are interested in understanding how evolutionary processes affect social systems and how sociality, in turn, affects the course of evolution. Our research focuses on understanding the social structure and mating biology of social insects. In addition, we are interested in the process of development in the context of sociality. We have found that some social insect females mate with multiple males, and that this behavior affects the structure of colonies.  We have also found that colonies adjust their reproductive output in a coordinated and adaptive manner. Finally, we are investigating the molecular basis underlying the striking differences between queens and workers in highly social insects. Overall, our research provides insight into the function and evolutionary success of highly social organisms.