Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Breed


The survival of an animal society depends on individual interactions and how they influence the coordination of a group to respond to environmental changes. Coordinated responses to environmental changes are determined by the interactions between individuals within a particular group. Individuals that are especially influential can affect the behavioral response of other group members. Here, I tested a novel concept I call “Follow the Leader”, in which an individual influences other group members within the thermoregulatory fanning behavior in the western honeybee (Apis mellifera L.). In response to increasing temperatures, individual honeybee workers rapidly fan their wings to circulate air through out the hive. Individuals often influence the behavior of other individuals which results in a coordinated group thermoregulatory response for proper colonial homeostasis. My results suggest that individuals have the capability to become a leader within a group by influencing other individuals to follow their fanning response to increasing temperatures. An influential individual, or “leader”, may ultimately affect the ability for a society to efficiently respond to environmental fluctuations.