John M. Townsend-Mehler

Department of Zoology


Ecology, Evolutionary Biology & Behavior Program


Specialization in Cognitive Science



My background is in animal behavior and evolutionary biology with interdisciplinary training in cognitive science.  Iím interested in variation in the foraging strategies among nectar gathering insects.  Iím particularly interested in how colony level characteristics such as colony size, and communication shape the foraging decision strategies for individuals.† My research compares the foraging behavior of honeybees (Apis mellifera) and bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) focusing principally on how individuals respond to shifts in resource distribution.† Iím also very interested in how bees, as well as other foraging animals, decide to allocate their time and effort among possible behavioral responses.† As bees, or other animals, are confronted with changes in the environment, they must continually decide whether to tolerate shifts in food availability, explore elsewhere, go home, or even visit other familiar sites.† Much of my work focuses on beesí integration of these sorts of behavioral options as they search for food.

Contact Information


Department of Zoology

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI 48824-1115

Ph (517) 355-4640

Fax (517) 432-2789