Studying how animals learn, use information strategically, and evaluate their options
Animal Comparative Economics lab
Dr. Tomer J. Czaczkes
ACE Group leader
Lehrstuhl für Zoologie / Evolutionsbiologie
(+49) 941 943 2461
My first scientific contact with ants was seeing people drop ants from a bridge in a rainforest on the first day of my BA project. When I asked why they were doing that, they said “for science”. I knew then and there that I wanted to be an experimental biologist.
I carried out my doctoral studies at the University of Sussex, under the unique supervision of Prof. Francis Ratnieks. There, I learned to carry out individual and collective behaviour experiments in the lab and in the field, and gained a deep appreciation for Lasius niger as a wonderful model organism. I also gained an abiding love for running many small side projects and following up fun leads.
With funding from the excellent Alexander von Humboldt foundation (which I strongly recommend to any researchers considering a post-doc in Germany), I moved to the University of Regensburg to begin my independent research career, hosted and mentored by Prof Jürgen Heinze. Regensburg is a lovely place to live and work, and I have yet to see a good reason to leave.
I founded the Animal Comparative Economics lab (ACElab) in 2016 in order to explore how invertebrates perceive value, and what can cause things to seem more or less valuable to them. Our work has led us into into comparative and consumer psychology, behavioural economics, information use strategies, and decision-making under risk and uncertainty. In this I was generously supported by the DFGs Emmy Noether funding programme. Now, with the generous support the European Research Council and further support by the DFG thanks to their Heisenberg Programme, the ACElab is taking the next big step forward. We will be using our hard-won knowledge of ant cognition to develop ways of steering choice and increasing consumption, both at the individual, and the group level.
Lastly, I should note that while I do love ants, I am also happy to work with any other model organism, as long as it can take us where we want to go.