Alin Jacob, Gifty
Gifty Alin Jacob
It is intriguing to understand how closely related species allocate resources to avoid inter-specific competition and coexist in a common habitat. Social insects like bees offer to be excellent model systems to examine fundamental ecological questions such as group-living, coexistence, resource partitioning and sociality. There could possibly be a high degree of resource partitioning existing amongst different honeybee species due to their similar social structure, resource demands, foraging strategies and dance communication. Their neuroecology in the foraging context would also be specifically interesting to look at. Although there has been extensive research done in these aspects in the western honey bee, Apis mellifera, such studies on the Asian honeybee species are still in their infancy.
Our project aims in comprehending the effects of landscape on the resource partitioning and foraging neuroecology of the three Asian honeybee species A. cerana, A. dorsata and A. florea and the western honeybee A. mellifera. I am particularly interested in deciphering the molecular mechanisms underlying their foraging division of labour in forest, agricultural and urban landscapes. Through this work, we intend to unravel the roles of octopamine and tyramine signalling in regulating sucrose responsiveness and division of foraging labour in the four honeybee species. In addition, quantifying octopamine and tyramine receptor gene expression and octopamine and tyramine brain titres of honey bees in different landscapes would elucidate how the diversity of floral resources and the landscape quality influence their foraging decisions. It would also be relevant to investigate this effect of landscape on neuronal signalling as it could imply the plausible impacts of urbanisation on the honeybee species which serve remarkable and irreplaceable pollination services.