Dr. Olav Rueppell
Our office and lab space are located in the Eberhart Building
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Our research apiary and bee facility are located
5min to the west (see map).
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LAST UPDATED Sept. 2011
Aging, Behavioral Senescence and Biodemography in Honey Bees
The honey bee is emerging as a new model organism in biodemographic and aging research. Broadly applicable molecular tools, a completed genome project, known husbandry, its economic importance, and its rich, well-described biology put the honey bee in a good position as a general biological model organism. Most importantly, the honey bee exhibits a dramatic, natural plasticity in aging rates within and among its different castes and has an intricate social structure that is amenable to a variety of experimental manipulations. Honey bees are cognitively complex and reasonably short-lived to serve as experimental models.
We are interested in finding out how the individual and societal level interact in lifespan determination, how early developmental effects determine life history and senescence, and how genetic and genomic factors affect aging. We have conducted numerous demographic studies and found that the age at which workers transition from in-hive tasks to foraging is the single most important predictor of lifespan, although some variability exists in the relation between the age of first foraging and remaining foraging lifespan. We have also found that adult honey bee mortality is complex but follows in general a type-I survivorship curve. In another study we could show that functional senescence may be decoupled from mortality risk.