ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR RESEARCH
For a few months I diverted away from my hometown Berlin, and travelled down to the unknown lands of Bavaria to study ant behaviour in the Animal Comparative Economics lab under the supervision of the wonderful Thomas Czaczkes at Regensburg University.
This involved training many ants and testing how they reacted to conflicting cues - we ended up with a cool paper (I am, of course, not at all biased) that showed that they overwhelmingly (100% of ants) follow their memory of smell, not place. Their preference for odour cues could be related to their ecology and by their ability to learn odour cues more rapidly, the latter of which we tested.
Some of the images below provide an illustration of some of the training process - which involved sugar water, paper mazes, and Lego (there's a good diagram in the paper). After spending weeks in close quarters staring at ants and meticulously watching which path they chose, seeing whether they followed their memory of smell or place, I ended up having a lot more affection for them than I thought possible - try and watch their antennae waggle with pure glee when they find the sugar water and tell me they're not adorable.
All photos taken by Annika Schlemm