Social thermoregulation and temperature stress in bees
Bumblebees, honey bees, and many other species actively regulate the temperature of their developing young. This is an important behavioral and physiological mechanism for coping with environmental conditions. We have recently found that exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides disrupts this ability in bumblebees (Bombus impatiens), and I am currently developing approaches that will allow us to continuously monitor worker and brood temperatures under controlled temperature fluctuations to reveal the underlying behavioral and physiological dynamics of these effects.
I am also interested in how the colony's ability to cope with temperature and other stressors such as pesticides varies with colony size. To explore this, I am developing techniques for tracking bumblebee colonies during development form a single queen to a colony with hundreds of worker, and studying the effects of stress-exposure during these different developmental stages.