Bert Hölldobler is a sociobiologist and an evolutionary biologist who studies theevolution of social organization in insects. He and his research team explore the behavioral mechanisms that underlie communication and division of labor systems in ant societies. They also investigate how separate ant colonies communicate with one another in order to regulate territories.
The team approaches these studies with a broad comparative research strategy — studying several species that vary in genetic relation to find how their behavioral differences are linked to differences in genetics. They focus on multi-modal communication, including complex chemical signals, vibration, and touching.
Hölldobler also co-authored The Superorganism with Edward O. Wilson. This volume explores how insect societies can be viewed as superorganisms and what this implies for the theory of social evolution.
- Bert Hölldobler and E.O. Wilson, The Superorganism, W.W. Norton, New York 2008
- Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson, THE ANTS, Harvard University Press, (Cambridge MA, London UK), 1990, pp 732
- Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson, JOURNEY TO THE ANTS, Harvard University Press, (Cambridge MA, London UK), 1994, pp 228 ( this book appeared in 13 languages)
- R.Wirth, H. Herz, R. Reyel, W. Beyschlag, B. Hölldobler, HERBIVORY IN LEAF-CUTTING ANTS, Springer Verlag (Heidelberg, London, New York, Tokio), 2003, pp 230
This carpenter ant (Camponotusfloridanus) served as a model species for many of our investigations on chemical communication in ants. The picture shows the large queen surrounded by a group of her much smaller worker daughters. The workers employ chemical signalsandmotor displays in recruitment communication, and the queen signals herfertility status by emitting a complex blend of hydrocarbons.
The honeypot ants (Myrmecocystus mimicus) got their name from their remarkable food storage behavior. Repletes which hang from the ceiling, are workers whose crops are distended by liquid food. They regurgitate part of the liquid back to their nest mates during time of food shortage.
Honeypot ants of the species Myrmecocystus mimicus defend spatio-temporal territories by engaging opponent colonies in a ritualized tournament. See video under the next tab.