Unia Europejska

foto Piotr Ślipiński

Behaviour, Ecology and Immunology of Social Insects


Bartosz Walter, PhD

Assistant  Professor  at  Museum  and  Institute  of  Zoology,  Polish  Academy  of Scieneces


My recently established research group at the Polish Academy   of   Sciences,   Warsaw,   is   focused   on answering   major   questions   of   behavioural   and population ecology of social insects. We are a young and dynamic team dedicated to make a substantial impact  both  in  international  science  and  nature conservation.     We     currently     work     on     ants (Platythyrea,        Pachycondyla,        Odonthomachus, Pseudomyrmex, Temnothorax, Leptothorax, Myrmica,

Formica), paper wasps (Polistes), and bees (Apis, Bombus). Should you have any questions

regarding our research or collaboration opportunities, please, do not hesitate contact me at:

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Current projects

Population-level mechanisms of biodiversity loss in human-disturbed tropical habitats
High rate of human-induced disturbance of tropical ecosystems results in enormous loss of biodiversity. Yet, the mechanisms at the population level, causing species extinction in disturbed habitats, are still not fully understood. Main goal of the project is to unveil the
mechanisms that attenuate populations inhabiting human-disturbed habitats. I will compare nest site parameters, colony size and structure, and brood production of the Neotropical ant Platythyrea punctata in undisturbed and disturbed secondary rain forests in Puerto Rico. I aim to demonstrate the population-level mechanisms (e.g. decreased rate of brood production or smaller population size) that directly promote species extinction in disturbed habitats and indirectly lead to lower biodiversity there. I hope that my results will help nature conservationists in their efforts to protect the biodiversity, especially in tropical rain forest ecosystems.
















Conflicts and conflict resolution in multiple-queen societies of social insects



Though colonies of social insects are commonly thought to be peaceful societies without much disagreement about reproduction they are often full of internal conflicts concerning rights to reproduce. One of such conflicts is conflict between queens (female reproductives) in multiple-queen societies of ants (functional monogyny). In such colonies only one of the queens can reproduce, while others have to refrain from reproduction. I investigate the factors (age, experience, potential fertility) that may increase chances of a queen to monopolize the reproduction in functionally monogynous colonies of ants.



Recent projects

Social immunology in ants

Societies of social insects (termites, wasps, bees, ants) provide perfect conditions for the spread of infections as they constitute more or less extended families with group members
 living in direct contact. Therefore the societies are expected to employ mechanisms that reduce the probability of transmitting pathogens to group members. Death in nature rarely results from old age, but commonly results from diseases. Leaving one’s group to die in seclusion might be an efficient way of minimizing the risk of infecting kin.
In the studies with prof. Jürgen Heinze from Regensburg University we showed that fungus infected workers of the ant Temnothorax unifasciatus leave spontaneously their nests before dying and die in social isolation far from the nest and nest mates. Similarly also uninfected workers whose life expectancy was experimentally reduced by exposure to 95% CO2, and uninfected workers dying in observation colonies exhibited the same suite of behavior of isolating themselves 
from their nestmates days or hours before death. Therefore actively leaving the nest and breaking 
off all social interactions occurred regardless of whether individuals were infected or not, demonstrating that the self-isolation in not due to parasite-induced manipulation of the moribund ants behavior. Social isolation might be a commonly overlooked altruistic trait serving the inclusive fitness interest of dying individuals in social animals.
See also:

Heinze, Jürgen, and Bartosz Walter. "Moribund ants leave their nests to die in social isolation." Current Biology 20.3 (2010): 




Conflict resolution and colony size in social insects

Cohesion of social groups requires the suppression of individual selfishness. Indeed, worker egg laying in insect societies is usually suppressed or punished through aggression and egg removal. The effectiveness of such “policing” is expected to increase with decreasing relatedness, as inclusive fitness of group members is more strongly affected by selfish worker reproduction when group members are less closely related to each other. As inclusive fitness is also influenced by the costs and benefits of helping, the effectiveness of policing should decrease with increasing colony size, because the costs for the whole colony from selfish worker reproduction are proportionally reduced in large groups.
In the project performed in collaboration with Elizabeth Brunner and prof. Jürgen Heinze form Regensburg University we tested whether policing effectiveness depends on both colony size and within-group relatedness. We showed that policing effectiveness in colonies of the ant Temnothorax unifasciatus is low in large groups and high in small groups when relatedness is high. When we experimentally decreased the relatedness in groups, the policing effectiveness reached the same high level as in small, highly related groups, irrespective of group size. Therefore, our results indicate that policing effectiveness is simultaneously shaped by relatedness and group size, that is, an ecological factor. This may have major implications for testing policing across species of animals.
See also:
Walter, Bartosz, Elisabeth Brunner, and Jürgen Heinze. "Policing effectiveness depends on relatedness and group size." The American Naturalist 177.3 (2011): 368-376.



„Polskie nazewnictwo ssaków świata”


 Autorzy: Włodzimierz Cichocki, Agnieszka Ważna, Jan Cichocki, Ewa Rajska-Jurgiel, Artur Jasiński, Wiesław Bogdanowicz

Wydawca: Muzeum i Instytut Zoologii PAN, ul. Wilcza 64, 00-679 Warszawa

Format: ca. 205 x 265 mm, miękka oprawa, ca. 380 stron

ISBN: 978-83-88147-15-9

Cena :  63 zł + koszty przesyłki

Warszawa 2015

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Rabat 35% na wszystkie wydawnictwa od 15.06.2021

Image Acta Chiropterologica the only journal fully devoted to bats indexed by Thomson Scientific. Published twice a year.
Acta Ornithologica - publishes scientific papers (original research reports, reviews, short notes, etc.) and announcements from all fields of ornithology. It is open for authors from all countries. The language of papers is English (with Polish summaries). All manuscripts are peer-reviewed.
Image Annales Zoologici - it is an international quarterly journal devoted to all aspects of systematic zoology (in broad sense).
Image Fragmenta Faunistica - the journal is issued semi-annually and publishes the papers devoted to knowing fauna, its differentiation, distribution and transformation. These are the results of original studies, review articles and syntheses dealing with faunology and related sciences as zoogeography or zoocenology.
  Polish Journal of Ecology - (formerly Ekologia polska) publishes original scientific research papers dealing with all aspects of ecology: both fundamental and applied, physiological ecology, ecology of population, community, ecosystem, landscape as well as global ecology. There is no bias regards taxon, environment or geographical area.

Other Publications

Rabat 35% na wszystkie wydawnictwa od 15.06.2021

Z ptakami przez życie

Polskie nazewnictwo ssaków świata

Fauna Polski vol. 4 kręgowce - Charakterystyka i wykaz gatunków Tom IV Kręgowce

Pajęczy Świat
Image Fauna Mundi vol.1 - Doryctinae (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) of Japan
Image Fauna Mundi vol. 2 - Rhyzobius (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) a revision of the world species

Fauna Mundi vol. 3 - Myrmica ants (Hymenoptera : Formicidae) of the Old World 

Image Fauna Mundi - vol. 4 - Ptyctimous mites (Acari: Oribatida) of the Palaearctic Region
Fauna Mundi - vol. 5 - Ptyctimous mites (Acari, Oribatida) of the Palaearctic Region

Coleoptera Poloniae: Tenebrionoidea (Tenebrionidae, Boridae)

Coleoptera Poloniae: Tenebrionoidea (Tetratomidae, Melandryidae)

Image Assemblages of soil Collembola in wetlands in the floodplains of some Polish rivers - The effect of disturbance regime on Collembola assemblages in river floodplains is for the first time quantifed. The diversity pattern, resilience and predicted classification of Collembola assemblages in river floodplains are discussed.
Image "Jedno istnieje tylko zwierzę" - Adam Urbanek
Image Fauna Polski - Charakterystyka i wykaz gatunków - opracowanie monograficzne, którego celem było zgromadzenie kompleksowej informacji o różnorodności gatunkowej naszej fauny, jej walorach oraz stopniu zbadania poszczególnych taksonów. Opracowanie zawiera zestawienie wszystkich współczesnych gatunków zwierząt stwierdzonych w Polsce (zazwyczaj jednak z wyłączeniem fauny Bałtyku) oraz charakterystykę taksonów wyższej rangi, poczynając od typu na rodzinie kończąc.
Image Fauna Polski (Fauna Poloniae) - this series provides synthetic review of particular animal families occurring in Poland
Image Fauna Polski - Nowa seria - vol.1 - Trombidiidae of Poland
Image Fauna Polski - Nowa seria - vol. 2 - Middle and late Pleistocene
Image Fauna Polski - Nowa seria - vol. 3 - Ptyctimous mites of Poland

Fauna Polski - Nowa seria - vol. 4 - The ants of Poland with reference to the myrmecofauna of Europe

Fauna Polski - Nowa seria - vol. 5 The structure and distribution of parasite assemblages of roach (Rutilus rutilus L.) along the Odra River against the background of environmental factors

Image Memorabilia Zoologica
Image Zastosowanie metod molekularnych w badaniach ekologicznych
Image The Ants (Hymenoptera, Formicidae) of Poland
Image Katalog Fauny Polski
Image Catalogus Faunae Poloniae - New series - vol. 1 - Eriophyoid mites of Poland
Image Catalogus Faunae Poloniae - New series - vol. 2 - Plant bugs of Poland
Catalogus Faunae Poloniae - New series - vol. 3  Plant bugs of Poland. Part II. Subfamily Mirinae
Image Nematodes of Tylenchina in Poland and temperate Europe
Image Chrysomelidae. The leaf-beetles of Europe and the Mediterranean area
Image The Palaearctic Chrysomelidae. Identification keys


Image DVD - Monograph of the Salticidae (Araneae) of the World

List of publications


Muzeum i Instytut Zoologii    

Polska Akademia Nauk

ul. Wilcza 64

00-679 Warszawa

Stacja Badawcza

Muzeum i Instytut Zoologii

Polska Akademia Nauk

ul. Wiśniowa



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