Dr. Tomer Czaczkes - Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prizewinner 2024

Behavioural Ecology, University of Regensburg

Biologist Tomer Czaczkes works at the interface between behavioural ecology and comparative psychology. In doing so he focuses on small life forms that demonstrate complex ways of thinking: based on ants and bumblebees, he investigates how the behaviour of social insects can be manipulated in their search for food. For example, how do ants process information and use it strategically? How do they perceive their environment and make decisions? 

By means of sophisticated experiments, he has already been able to show that ants change their behaviour when they have been disappointed by previous experience. In the same way, they are more “enthusiastic” about a food source that is more challenging for them to access. This shows that social insects can be manipulated in a similar way to human beings – such as customers who are exposed to hidden advertising. Among other things, Czaczkes is currently attempting to draw on his findings to control invasive alien ant species.