Dr. Erik Frank

I am interested in animal behaviour, ecology and evolution, specifically predator-prey interactions, social immunity and chemical communication in the tropics.

My main study organism is the termite-hunting ant species Megaponera analis (located in sub-Saharan Africa). The evolutionary arms race between its termite prey and M. analis has led to some ingenious mechanisms to increase their efficiency as predators and lower their mortality. This species is the only social insect to consistently rescue and treat their injured nestmates (as far as we know).

Questions I am interested to answer therefore are on the evolution of rescue behaviour in animals: which are the driving factors that benefit its evolution? Is it also present in other ant species? Furthermore I am taking a closer look at the social treatment within the nest: do nestmates apply antimicrobial substances on the wound? What is the exact benefit of the treatment and how unique is it?

Other topics I work on are on group versus individual decision making in group-recruiting ants, the scouting behaviour of M. analis and Cuticular Hydrocarbon profile changes to differing tasks and abiotic stresses in ants.

2018–present
Post-doc, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Switzerland 

2015–2017
Coordinator Comoé National Park Research Station, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

2014–2017
PhD-Student Graduate School of Life Sciences, University of Würzburg, Germany

2013–2014
M.Sc. Biology, University of Würzburg, Germany

2010–2013
B.Sc. Biology, University of Würzburg, Germany

2007–2010
B.A. International Relations, University of Exeter, UK

1995–2007
Baccalaureate, European School Munich, Germany

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Office room: 2101
Phone: +4121 692 4176
Fax: +4121 692 4165
erik.frank[@]unil.ch 

Member of Keller group

Biophore - CH-1015 Lausanne
Switzerland
Tel. +41 21 692 41 60
Fax +41 21 692 41 65