Chair of Behavioral Physiology & Sociobiology

Roces lab - Behavioral ecology

Ant colonies are highly-organized societies without central control. Due to their impressive diversity, ants offer the opportunity to comparatively analyze the mechanisms underlying individual behavior, the coordination of social responses, as well as the adaptive significance of a given set of behavioral strategies. Our research is aimed, in a broad sense, at understanding the organization of ant societies. We investigate individual decision making, behavioral plasticity, information flows, division of labor, and collective behaviors in ant colonies, in the contexts of food collection, nest building, and the control of nest climate. Leaf-cutting ants and nectar-feeding ants are our research animals.


  • Decision-making and information flow in foraging leaf-cutting ants.
  • Energetics of decision-making in ants: costs of foraging and digging behavior.
  • Feeding behavior, communication, and the organization of foraging in nectar-feeding ants.
  • Building behavior and the control of nest climate in leaf-cutting ants.

Selected publications

  • Arenas, A., and Roces, F. (2017) Avoidance of plants unsuitable for the symbiotic fungus in leaf-cutting ants: Learning can take place entirely at the colony dump, PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science 12, 1-16.
  • Mildner, S., and Roces, F. (2017) Plasticity of Daily Behavioral Rhythms in Foragers and Nurses of the Ant Camponotus rufipes: Influence of Social Context and Feeding Times, PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science 12, 1-23.
  • Römer, D., Bollazzi, M., and Roces, F. (2017) Carbon dioxide sensing in an obligate insect-fungus symbiosis: CO2 preferences of leaf-cutting ants to rear their mutualistic fungus, PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science 12, 1-17.
  • Saverschek, N., and Roces, F. (2011) Foraging leafcutter ants: olfactory memory underlies delayed avoidance of plants unsuitable for the symbiotic fungus, Animal Behaviour 82, 453 - 458.
  • Weidenmüller, A., Mayr, C., Kleineidam, C. J., and Roces, F. (2009) Preimaginal and Adult Experience Modulates the Thermal Response Behavior of Ants, Current Biology 19, 1897 - 1902.

Chair of Zoology II
Am Hubland
97074 Würzburg

Phone: +49 931 31-84307
Fax: +49 931 31-84309

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