Biology Section

Ecology, Behavior & Evolution: Research Topics

Behavioral Ecology

The study of Behavioral Ecology examines the ecological (proximate) and evolutionary (ultimate) causes of animal behavior and uses behavior to make predictions about ecological patterns. A major theme is social insects as model systems. EBE faculty explore how complex behavior and ecological patterns such as territoriality and aggression emerge in superorganisms from individual actions. In addition, faculty examine reproductive behavior in diverse animals ranging from bonobos to harbor seals. Currently, faculty are studying (1) how foraging and communication have evolved in social bees in response to evolutionary pressures of competition and predation, (2) the neuroethology of learning and memory in honey bees and bumble bees, (3) factors that affect bee health, (4) how the behavior of invasive ants and wasps contributes to their ecological success, (5) how food-for-protection mutualism contribute to the success of invasive ants, (6) reproductive plasticity in Southeast Asian anurans, and (7) the behavior of bonobos at the San Diego Zoo.