John Wenzel
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Self-organizing systems governing labor and specialized task groups in colonies of ants, bees, and wasps

John Wenzel, PhD
Director, Center for Biodiversity and Ecosystems & Powdermill Nature Reserve
Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Earth Theater, First Floor Rear
Noon–1 p.m.





Photo:
John Wenzel teaching
Social Insects class at
Ohio State University

Since before the fall of dinosaurs, ants, bees, and wasps have been dominant forces in processes such as predation, decomposition, pollination, soil cycling, and a wide range of symbioses. Most of their importance stems from the way they work together in efficient teams to coordinate the colony’s labor. They accomplish this with no time clock, no blueprint, no foreman, and no knowledge of how many partners they have in their team. Recent advances show surprising insights into the organization of labor in social insects.

John Wenzel is an authority on nest construction and architecture in wasps. He and his students have published on the evolution of complex behavior across a wide range of insects and arthropods.

Related Publication: Noll, Gomes, Lima, Mateus, Wenzel. 2010. Castes in the neotropical social wasp Leipomeles dorsata (Fabricius) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae): a window for workers achieving a new status in the colony. Neotropical Entomology 39: 549-554.

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