|Since 2017||PhD-Student at the Institute of Organismic and Molecular Evolutionary Biology, Mainz. Preliminary thesis title “The adaptive significance of social information in tandem-running ants”|
|2014-2016||Master of Science (Biology) in Mainz, titled “How does foraging distance affect tandem running in Temnothorax nylanderi”|
|2011-2014||Bachelor of Science (Biology) in Würzburg, titled “Der Einfluss einer vertikalen Steigung auf den Fragmenttransport beim Furagieren von Blattschneiderameisen (Atta colombica)“|
I am generally interested in the communication and information system in social insects considering their recruitment strategies. Thereby, I concentrate on the recruitment strategy tandem running which is performed by several ant species, with a generally small colony size. To recruit a nestmate, a leader, who knows the location of a better nest site or a valuable food source, invites a usually naïve follower to track her to the intended resource. While walking to the goal they continuously exchange tactile signals. If they lose contact, they wait and search for each other to reunite and continue the tandem run. Later, a follower also can become a leader and recruit more nestmates.
In my thesis I concentrate on the different information and learning strategies during the recruitment process. Compared with honeybees (Apis mellifera) it is relatively easy to track single ant foragers and to recognize with which strategy they reach a food source. Therefore, I mainly work with Temnothorax nylanderi, a common species in the region of Mainz, which perform tandem runs to new nests but also to food sources. During my experiments I manipulate food sources and then want to find out how they arrived there. Do they go out by themselves and scout and search for new valuable food sources (individual learning) or do they follow a tandem leader that already found a well food source (social information/learning) or did they found a food source before and walked there again (private information)?