Department of Biology and Biotechnology

The Gegear Laboratory

Pollinator Neuroecology and Conservation

 

Welcome to the Gegear lab at WPI! Our laboratory studies insect cognition and behavior in the context of plant-pollinator interactions. To address research questions, we use a highly interdisciplinary apporach that combines concepts and experimental techniques from fields ranging from evolutionary ecology to human psychology and cognitive neuroscience.  Experimental tools used in our lab include:  digital behavioral tracking and analysis, neuroimaging, computer modeling, neuropharmacological manipulation, and genetic analysis.  We study a variety of pollinators (monarch butterflies, hummingbirds, and solitary bees), with particular focus on the bumblebee (Bombus spp.).  Bumblebees are an excellent model to study cognition within an ecological and evolutionary framework because they rely extensively on their cognitive system for tracking floral resources (nectar and pollen) under natural conditions, and are amenable to controlled laboratory and field studies of cognition-based behavior. Bumblebees are also key pollinators of many wild and crop plants, making them important players in ecosystem function, food security, and the agro-economy.