Laboratory of Ethology

Head: Ewa Joanna GODZIŃSKA

Staff: Jerzy Andrzej Chmurzyński (Professor emeritus), Julita Korczyńska, Paweł Mazurkiewicz (PhD student), Beata Symonowicz, Anna Szczuka, Andrzej Wnuk

Research profile:

We work in the field of ethology, sociobiology and social neuroscience of social insects. We are particularly interested in the analysis of multidirectional information flow between various levels of organization present in ant societies and in the ontogeny and neurochemical correlates of ant aggres- sive and social behaviour. Our current research is focused on ethopharmacological analysis of neurochemical mecha- nisms underlying various forms of aggressive behaviour in formicine and myrmicine ants. We are also interested in the role of the social context in the control of expression/ suppression of various elements of ant behaviour. We also try to unravel the effects of behavioural status (nurse versus forager) on behaviour and physiology of ant workers and to identify behavioural, morphological, physiological and neurochemical correlates of ant behavioural maturation and the so called behavioural reversion, i. e. the return of a forager to the behavioural status of a nurse


• manipulations of ant ontogeny and social context (social engineering)
• analysis of recordings of ant behaviour (“The Observer”)
• acute and chronic biogenic amine administration
HPLC analysis of biogenic amine and amino acid contents in ant brains

Current research activities:

• context dependence of aggressive behaviour, brain neurochemistry, and effects of biogenic amine administration in ants from two subfamilies (Formicinae and Myrmicinae)
• ontogeny of ant behaviour: behavioural, anatomical and neurochemical correlates of behavioural maturation and behavioural reversion
• factors influencing brood care behaviour, exploratory behaviour and responses to potential building material in the red wood ant (Formica polyctena)
• genetic polymorphism in wood ant colonies

Selected publications:

Szczuka A., Korczyńska J., Kieruzel M., Godzińska E.J. (2011) The effects of presence of homo- and allospecific nestmates on survivorship of isolated workers of the obligatory slave-making amazon ant species (Polyergus rufescens) and their slaves (Formica fusca)(Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology, 57: 361-376.

Wnuk A., Wiater M., Godzińska E.J. (2011) Effect of past and present behavioural specialization on brain levels of biogenic amines in workers of the red wood ant Formica polyctena. Physiological Entomology, 36: 54-61.

Korczyńska J., Gajewska M., Pilot M., Czechowski W., Radchenko A. (2010) Genetic polymorphism in “mixed” colonies of wood ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in southern Finland and its possible origin. European Journal of Entomology, 107: 157-167.

Czechowski W., Marko B., Godzińska E.J. (2009) Corpse carrying in ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): behavioural side effect of aggressive arousal or competitive signalling? Polish Journal of Ecology, 57: 341-352.

Szczuka A., Godzińska E.J. (2008) Effect of chronic oral administration of octopamine on the expression of predatory behavior in small groups of workers of the red wood ant Formica polyctena (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology, 52: 703-728