One can readily sense the complexity of collective behaviours by looking at the coordinated movements of flying birds or at the efficient division of labour between workers in the hive and in the anthill.
The Unit of Social Ecology (USE laboratory) has a long experience in the field of behavioural sciences, with a special focus on the collective organization of insect societies. USE carries out research in a wide range of topics including ethology, chemical ecology, insect physiology, socio-ecology and systems biology.
We are interested in identifying the factors that drive social life, using ants as main -but not exclusive- biological models. We study the mechanisms that lead to the emergence of collective behaviours, such as temporal patterns of synchronized activity, coordinated nest building, integrated network of foraging trails, efficient division of labour between workers or complex mutualistic interactions with other group-living insects such as aphids.
Aside from basic research on insect sociality, we also deal with more applied issues related, for example, to swarm intelligence, robotics, new modalities to control animal populations or impact of ant fauna on local ecosystems.