Professor Lars Chittka
Location: Room 2.13, Fogg building
Professor of Sensory and Behavioural Ecology
Phone: +44 (0)20 7882 3043
Sensory physiology, learning and evolutionary ecology
My research has established links between sensory physiology and learning psychology on the one hand, and evolutionary ecology on the other. Why do animals have the sensory systems they do? How do they use them in their natural foraging enviroment? How do cognitive-behavioural processes function in the economy of nature?
Pollinator-plant interactions have been used as a model system to study these questions. I have been particularly interested in mutual evolutionary and ecological influences of insect colour vision and flower colour signals, and insect learning and flower advertising.
In addition, I have studied bee navigation using large artificial landmarks, orientation of bees in complete darkness, as well as the question of how bees use spatial memory to navigate among several rewarded sites. Recently, I have also become interested in the evolution of cognitive capacities and communication, and the pollination biology of invasive plant species.
Bees have served as model organisms in most of these studies, because their colonies can be easily kept, their experience can be readily controlled, they have a rich behavioural repertoire and amazing learning capacities. My work has made use of field studies, as well as experimental studies with computer-controlled behavioural tests, computer simulations, and phylogenetic analyses (see publications).
Personal website: chittkalab.sbcs.qmul.ac.uk