Wulfila Gronenberg, University of Arizona, Arizona Research Laboratories

I am interested in the control of complex behavior by the brain. My work focuses on social insects because of their behavioral complexity (communication, kin recognition, navigation, exploration and recollection of territories, adaptive foraging strategies etc.). I favor the comparative approach towards neuroethology, making use of behavioral differences between hymenopteran species or between different castes within a colony. The rational is that behavioral differences and transitions result from structural and functional differences of the nervous system of the respective species or individual. For example, bees and wasps strongly rely on vision whereas for the majority of ant species olfaction is the predominant sensory modality. The design and size of their respective sensory brain regions reflect these behavioral preferences. Likewise, in honeybees and ants the behavioral transition from nurse to forager coincides with morphological changes in a particular brain region, referred to as the mushroom bodies. These brain structures are of particular interest because they are also involved in learning and memory storage, which are essential elements of social insect behavior and colony life.

Selected recent publications:

Homepage: : http://neurobio.arizona.edu/arldn/labs/gronenberg/

SFI-Social Insect Page