Studying how animals learn, use information strategically, and evaluate their options
Animal Comparative Economics lab
Humans like things more or less depending on whether they fulfil their expectations, or how they are presented. The same holds true for insects. This has broad implications, from invasive species control to plant-pollinator interactions
We have many sources of information available to us, such as personal information, friends' opinions, and advertisements. Social insects often have access to multiple information sources. We ask how these are used adaptivly.
Sometimes, the way insects process information and react to the world is remarkably similar to our own. In other ways, it is markedly different. By running insect-equivalents of classical psychological experiments, and pushing the limits of insect cognition, we gain a better understanding of how they, and we, think.
Once we have learned the rules individual ants follow, we want to know how this affects the colony as a whole. Using agent-based models, we explore how individual ant complexity results in adaptive colony-level behaviours.
New projects are always catching our interest, from web-building location choice in spiders to where ants choose to defecate. If it's interesting animal behaviour, we'll study it!