The Traniello Lab

at Boston University


Insects have evolved complex and diverse societies. In our lab in Boston University’s Department of Biology we study the behavioral ecology and diversity of social insects with a recent emphasis on the neural and physiological basis of social behavior in ants. Darwin’s sense of wonder was excited by the ant brain’s capability of “extraordinary mental activity with an extremely small absolute mass of nervous matter.” We feel the same way, and strive to address the question: how does a miniscule brain meet the demands of processing complex information at the level of the individual and society as a whole?

Focusing on the hyperdiverse ant genus Pheidole, we integrate sociobiology, ecology, and neurobiology to investigate the selective pressures that lead to the evolution of brain structure and neurochemistry; the causal relationships between age, caste, experience, physiology, and neurobiology with behavior; and the overall behavioral, physical, and physiological diversity of the New World Pheidole. Other major projects in our lab focus on understanding tropical ant diversity, behavior, and ecology, particularly in the extraordinarily diverse ant community of Amazonian Ecuador.

Social Insect Behavioral Ecology • Neuroethology Community Ecology • Biodiversity • Social Immunology

11-11-2014 -

Graduate Students Franne Kamhi and Darcy Gordon both presented talks at the Social Insects in the Northeast Region conference this past weekend!

last updated: 11/11/2014

Recent News:

Pseudocolored confocal micrograph stack of a Pheidole dentata worker brain showing the distribution of f-actin (phalloidin, green), synapsin (anti-synapsin IR, magenta), and cell nuclei (TO-PRO-3, blue) in the MB calyces. Microglomerular structure is evident in brightly stained magenta anti-synapsin puncta surrounded by green anti-f-actin staining.