Information, uncertainty and collective behavior

Honey bees

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.

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Selected Publications

When unreliable cues are good enough. (2013)
M.C. Donaldson-Matasci, C.T. Bergstrom and M. Lachmann.
The American Naturalist 182 (3): 313-327.
[ doi:10.1086/671161 ] [ ASN Blog ]

Bigger is better: honey bee colonies as distributed information-gathering systems. (2013)
M.C. Donaldson-Matasci, G. DeGrandi-Hoffman, and A. Dornhaus.
Animal Behaviour 85 (3): 585-592.
[ doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.12.020 ] [ Nature Research Highlight ]

How habitat affects the benefits of communication in collectively foraging honey bees. (2012)
M. C. Donaldson-Matasci and A. Dornhaus.
Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology 66 (4): 583-592.
[ doi:10.1007/s00265-011-1306-z ] [ pdf ]

The fitness value of information. (2010)
M. C. Donaldson-Matasci, C. T. Bergstrom, and M. Lachmann.
Oikos 119 (2): 219-230.
[ doi:10.1111/j.1600-0706.2009.17781.x ] [ pdf ]

Phenotypic diversity as an adaptation to environmental uncertainty. (2008)
M. C. Donaldson-Matasci, M. Lachmann and C. T. Bergstrom.
Evolutionary Ecology Research 10 (4): 493-515.
[ via EER ] [ pdf ]

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Matina Donaldson-Matasci

Postdoctoral Researcher
Dornhaus Lab
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona, USA

Ph.D., Bergstrom Lab
Department of Biology
University of Washington
Seattle, Washington, USA