Head: Ewa Joanna Godzińska



2005 Professor of Biological Sciences, nomination by the President of the Republic of Poland, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, PAS

1995 DSc Habil, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, PAS

1984 PhD in Biology, Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, PAS

1978 MSc in Biology, University of Warsaw


Research trainings:

2007 Institute of Research on Insect Biology (IRBI), University François Rabelais, Tours, France

1988-1993 Laboratory of Ethology and Sociobiology (renamed Laboratory of Experimental and Comparative Ethology), University Paris Nord, Villetaneuse, France

1985 Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK


Professional employments:

1988-1989 Lecturer (during a post-doc stage): University Paris Nord, Villetaneuse, France

1982-present Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, PAS


Honors and fellowships:

2010 The title „Media-Friendly Scientist 2010” awarded by the Polish Science Journalists’ Association

Staff: Jerzy Andrzej Chmurzyński (Professor emeritus), Julita Korczyńska, Beata Symonowicz, Anna Szczuka


Research profile:

We work in the field of ethology, sociobiology and social neuroscience of social insects, studying various ant species including facultative and obligatory social parasites and their slaves. We lay stress on comparative research which allows us not only to broaden our knowledge about interindividual interactions displayed by social insects, but also to gain a better understanding of biological roots of social phenomena encountered in humans. We are particularly interested in the analysis of multidirectional information flow between various levels of organization present in ant societies, and in ontogeny and neurochemical correlates of ant aggressive and social behaviour. Our current research is focused on the analysis of the impact of neurochemical, endocrine and social causal factors on various forms of ant aggressive behaviour (both ritualized and overt aggression), and on friendly social behaviour of these insects (various worker-worker interactions including the so called rescue behaviour, i.e., providing help to endangered individuals, various forms of brood care). We are also interested in the role of social context in the control of expression/suppression of various elements of ant behaviour. In particular, we 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 (transition nurse – forager) and behavioural reversion (return of a forager to the behavioural status of a nurse).

Current research activities:


  • ontogeny of ant behaviour: behavioural correlates of behavioural maturation and behavioural reversion
  • behavioural correlates of specialisation in intranidal versus extranidal tasks in major workers of the carpenter ants of the genus Camponotus
  • interrelationships between worker behavioural status, responses to brood and responses to illumination conditions in workers of the red wood ant Formica polyctena
  • role of neurochemical, hormonal and social factors in the ontogeny of aggressive and defensive behaviour of workers of F. polyctena
  • effects of chronic oral administration of octopamine and caffeine on various patterns of aggressive behaviour and friendly social behaviour displayed   by workers of F. polyctena during various laboratory bioassays
  • factors influencing rescue behaviour of ants from various species and subfamilies including facultative and obligatory social parasites and their slaves
  • cognitive aspects of rescue behaviour in formicine and myrmicine ants
  • effect of training on the defensive behaviour and rescue behaviour shown by workers of F. polyctena
  • interactions between host and slavemaker workers in natural mixed ant colonies composed of social parasites and their slaves
  • long-term impact of agriculture on the survival of wood ants of the Formica rufa group
  • general rules underlying decision making processes.


Selected publications:


Szczuka A., Korczyńska J., Wnuk A., Symonowicz B., Gonzalez Szwacka A., Mazurkiewicz P., Kostowski W., Godzińska E. J. (2013) The effects of serotonin, dopamine, octopamine and tyramine on behavior of workers of the ant Formica polyctena during dyadic aggression tests. Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars), 73: 495-520.


Godzińska E.J., Wróbel A. (2014) Capturing the essence of decision making should not be oversimplified. Behav Brain Sci, 37: 85.


Wnuk A., Kostowski W., Korczyńska J., Szczuka A., Symonowicz B., Bieńkowski P., Mierzejewski P., Godzińska E.J. (2014) Brain GABA and glutamate levels in workers of two ant species (Hymenoptera: Formicidae): interspecific differences and effects of queen presence/absence. Insect Sci, 21: 647-658.


Czechowski W., Godzińska E. J. (2015) Enslaved ants: not as helpless as they were thought to be. Insectes Soc, 62: 9-22. Godzińska E.J. (2016) Human and ant social behavior should be compared in a very careful way to draw valid parallels. Behav Brain Sci, 39: e98 (21-22).