Collective Behaviour - Fall Seminar Series 2020

Collective Ecophysiology and Physics of Honey Bee Swarms

Orit Peleg, University of Colorado Boulder

Orit Peleg is an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder. She currently focuses on how organisms adapt to environmental fluctuations. A major area of her research concerns honeybee clusters as she dissects how bees create a stable structure in the presence of mechanical stress. She also investigates signaling between animals, specifically the methods animals employ to amplify and interpret signals across large space and time scales. To solve this problem, she uses honeybees, plants, and fireflies as model organisms. In addition, her lab models movement ecology to demonstrate how animals translocate food over long distances. This behavior requires interplay between navigation and assessment of the environment to establish the optimal path in terms of accuracy, speed, and effort. Through several diverse projects, her lab harnesses the power of computational tools to answer fundamental questions in biology and ecology.

Collective Ecophysiology and Physics of Honey Bee Swarms

Collective behavior of organisms creates environmental micro-niches that buffer them from environmental fluctuations e.g., temperature, humidity, mechanical perturbations, etc., thus coupling organismal physiology, environmental physics, and population ecology. This talk will focus on a combination of biological experiments, theory, and computation to understand how a collective of bees can integrate physical and behavioral cues to attain a non-equilibrium steady state that allows them to resist and respond to environmental fluctuations of forces and flows. We analyze how bee clusters change their shape and connectivity and gain stability by spread-eagling themselves in response to mechanical perturbations. Similarly, we study how bees in a colony respond to environmental thermal perturbations by deploying a fanning strategy at the entrance that they use to create a forced ventilation stream that allows the bees to collectively maintain a constant hive temperature. When combined with quantitative analysis and computations in both systems, we integrate the sensing of the environmental cues (acceleration, temperature, flow) and convert them to behavioral outputs that allow the swarms to achieve a dynamic homeostasis. 

Datum: 2020-11-23