Temperature homeostasis in Bumblebee colonies

Monday, 20. January 2020
11:45 – 12:45


Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour

Anja Weidenmüller, University of Konstanz

This event is part of an event series „Seminar Series of CASCB“.

Anja Weidenmüller is a Postdoc at the CASCB. Her work focuses on social insects and the complex mechanisms that underlie these self-organized, flexible yet highly robust social systems. Her main research involves answering questions such as how is individual decision-making modulated in the social context, how individuals differ, and how the behavior of many different individuals is integrated into a functional unit, the colony. Anja is experimentally investigating these questions in the collective temperature homeostasis in bumblebees.

Temperature homeostasis in Bumblebee colonies

Social insects provide dazzling examples of flexible, decentralized collective organization. They cooperatively manage a complex network of simultaneous tasks and often also collectively balance important parameters within their nest, e.g. respiratory gases, humidity and nutrition. In my talk, I present one such example of ‘collective physiology’, the collective temperature homeostasis in bumblebee colonies. Much like endotherm organisms, colonies maintain a stable core nest temperature of 32°C; even though they are composed of individuals that lack this ability. Describing the experimental approach to understand both individual and collective behavior, I highlight what we know about individual response decisions, individual flexibility, within-group heterogeneity, and feedback mechanisms within the social context in this system; and discuss how the collective ability to maintain homeostasis can be disrupted by a commonly used herbicide.

Image courtesy of Anja Weidenmüller
Image courtesy of Anja Weidenmüller