Our research is focused on understanding the evolution of cooperation and the selective pressures that favor the transition from solitary life to cooperative group living. To this end, we explore the evolution of cooperation and group formation in animals by studying insect colonies that vary in their extent of sociality. We are particularly interested in answering fundamental questions that provide critical bases to understand the relationship between brain development and sociality in animals. How do social animals process information from their physical and social environment to make decisions that enhance their survival and reproductive success? In animal societies where group members are constantly interacting, how do these interactions shape brain architecture and function?
We use an integrative approach to investigate the relationship among relatedness, social interactions, behavior cues, environmental factors and brain architecture in group formation and cooperation. Our focus is in the Tropics, where biotic interactions that influence group-living is especially prominent.