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Talking Science

Sleepy Hollow High School AP Biology students Emma Basha, Ibeth Alvarracin, Eliza Grose, Isabella Calix, Maria Vallejo, and AJ Casiano, accompanied by science teachers Leana Peltier and Michele Zielinski traveled to Rockefeller University on January 12th for the annual Talking Science presentation. This year’s presentation was given by Dr. Daniel Kronauer, the head of the Social Evolution and Behavior Laboratory on “The Social Lives of Ants”. Students learned that clonal raider ants, while being genetically identical, exhibit complex social behaviors and are often portrayed as “superorganisms”. The Kronauer lab uses clonal raider ants to study a number of broad questions: How did complex animal societies evolve from solitary ancestors? How does behavioral and developmental plasticity give rise to division of labor? How do individual ants produce, perceive, and process social signals? And how does the composition and network structure of social groups affect group-level properties and fitness? During the lunch session the students engaged in discussions with researchers as they navigated various interactive demonstrations.