Dr. Danielle Mersch

I am interested in circadian rhythms in a social group, in particular, in ants. Circadian rhythms, i.e. rhythms with a period of roughly 24 hours, govern daily physiological, behavioural and molecular processes of many species including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria. These rhythms, regulated by the natural light-dark cycles, are important in determining the resting and feeding patterns of individuals. Ants are social insects that are characterised by division of labour. Some colony tasks are done throughout the day (e.g. brood care) whereas others are limited to some period of the day (e.g. foraging). This implies that workers should be aware of the time of day and communicate this information. In my research project, I would like to describe the rhythms in a social group, the influences of the queen and the workers, and then answer questions about synchronisation between group members, communication of information on time of day and the link between division of labour and circadian rhythms.
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