Colonies of eusocial insects constantly have to make allocation decisions. For example, whether to raise large or small workers, workers or sexuals, virgin queens or males, queen sons or worker sons, and diploid or haploid queen sons. The allocation choices that they make may depend on season, kin structure, colony size, the colony's current caste distribution, and whether a queen is present or absent. My main focus of study is why colonies make certain choices rather than others, both at the proximate (gene expression, physiology, and behaviour) and the ultimate level. Do the ants always make the optimal decision, or are certain choices adaptively neutral or even maladaptive, due to a lack of information, morphological and physiological constraints, and an unpredictable environment.
Michiel "Mischa" Bendert Dijkstra, born on September 17, 1974
2007 - 2009
Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow
Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Switzerland, on "Proximate causes of differences in sex allocation: differential gene expression in brains of brood nurses in the fire ant Solenopsis invicta". Supervisor: Prof. Laurent Keller.
2006 - 2007
Department of Biology, McGill University, Montréal, Canada, on "Mechanisms of caste evolution in the Pheidole pilifera group: a role for genetic accommodation?" Supervisor: Prof. Ehab Abouheif.
2005 - 2006
Department of Population Biology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, on "Fitness of diploid males in Acromyrmex echinatior leafcutter ants". Supervisor: Prof. Jacobus J. Boomsma.
2000 - 2005
Department of Population Biology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, on "The regulation of male production in leafcutter ants".
Supervisor: Prof. Jacobus J. Boomsma.
Department of Ethology and Socio-ecology, University of Utrecht, the Netherlands. Supervision: Drs. S. Dieleman, Amanda H. Korstjens, J. Slaa, Marinus J. Sommeijer, and Liesbeth Sterck.