Information, uncertainty and collective behavior
Change and uncertainty are problems that every organism must face. Across domains of life and levels of organization, all living things have evolved ways to collect information about the environment, process it, and use it to make decisions. This informational perspective applies broadly, from seeds germinating in response to just the right conditions, to vervet monkeys recognizing and communicating about different predators, to colonies of honey bees foraging cooperatively for nectar. Using a combination of theory, field observations, and manipulative experiments, I study how the adaptive value of different information-collecting strategies depends on ecological context. I am particularly interested in how communication shapes collective behaviors like foraging and and defense in social insects and other group-living organisms.