of animal personality is a rapidly growing field within animal
behavior. However, much of the work has been focused on individual
personalities. By viewing ant colonies as a singular functioning
superorganisms, I study how collective personality is shaped and
maintained in ant colonies. Are certain colonies consistently more
aggressive and exploratory while others are cautious and reserved?
To answer this question, I study tropical Azteca ants that live
inside Cecropia trees in the rainforests of Panama. This system
involves a tightly-bound mutualism where trees provide food and
shelter while ants provide rigorous protection from herbivores and
encroaching vines. I am interested how colony personality plays a
role in this intimate symbiosis. I am currently exploring how worker
personality affects colony personality, how soil nutrients and
elevation may effect colony behavior, and how colony behavior may
shape leaf defensive chemical investment and decomposition rates.