Recent Publications

Forster, CY, Middleton, EJT, Gloag, R, Hochuli, DF, White, TE, Laty, T (2023) “Impact of empty flowers on foraging choice and movement within floral patches by the Honey bee, Apis mellifera” Under review

RESEARCH: Currently under review

Chapman, KM, Richardson, FJ, Forster, CY, Middleton, EJT, White, TE, Burke, PF, Latty, T (2023) “Artificial flowers as a tool for investigating multimodal flower choice in free flying insects” Under review

RESEARCH: Currently under review

McCormick, J, Middleton, EJT, White, TE, Latty, T (2023) “Information cascades spread adaptive and maladaptive behaviours in group living animals” Under review

RESEARCH: Currently under review

Middleton, EJT, Hochuli, DF, Keith, R, White, TE, Latty, T, Forster, CY* (2023) “Social media conservation messaging mirrors age-old taxonomic biases in public domain” Austral Ecology 48(4):687-698 *shared first authorship

RESEARCH: The Threatened Species Bake Off competition is a social media initiative created by the Australian Government in 2017 to raise awareness of nationally listed threatened species. In this study, we assessed the trends of the competition by collating entries via Instagram and Twitter in its first 5 years. Representations of 356 unique species were baked, 261 of which were listed as nationally threatened species. This is evidence of taxonomic bias towards the charismatic animals, and a problematic lack of representation of other threatened species, such as plants. Public engagement in this competition reflects current conservation messaging, including media and education focus on charismatic animals, demonstrating engrained biases. Future competitions should address this by highlighting less popular but equally important threatened species, especially plants.

Herringe, CA, Middleton, EJ, Boyd, KC, Latty, T, & White, TE (2022) “Benefits and costs of social foraging in velvet worms” Ethology 128(3):197-206

RESEARCH: Velvet worms are enigmatic and charismatic invertebrates that have long captured the intrigue of researchers. As the only known  social living and foraging Onychophoran species, there are many behavioural questions to explore. Our work examined the effect of natural group size and controlled prey size on the latency to attack and begin consuming prey, the likelihood of complete prey consumption and the time taken to completely consume prey, demonstrating the costs and benefits of group living in E. rowelli.

Oberhauser, FB, Middleton, EJT, Latty, T & Czaczkes, TJ (2019) “Meat ants cut more trail shortcuts when facing long detours” Journal of Experimental Biology 222(21)

RESEARCH: Meat ants are ubiquitous in the Australian outback and are famous for their distinct trail networks. In this research we demonstrate their ability to clear trails in a directed manner when detour costs around an obstacle are high. Further, meat ants quickly establish cleared trails to food by focusing on a central, vertically aligned trail.

Middleton, EJT, Garnier, S, Latty, T & Reid, CR (2019) “Temporal and spatial pattern of trail clearing in the Australian meat ant, Iridomyrmex purpureusAnimal Behaviour 150:97-111

RESEARCH: Although trail clearing is thought to be beneficial in decreasing travel time, the physical process of clearing requires an investment of time and energy. Given that trail clearing is a decentralized process, how do colonies decide when to invest in clearing? In this study, we examined trail clearing using artificial semipermeable barriers mimicking grass. Meat ants cleared low abundance/low toughness obstacles more than high abundance/high toughness. We further found that the paths were not optimally efficient, however a percolation analysis showed that the ants strategically deployed clearing, taking multiple factors into account when deciding to invest in this strategy. The resultant clearing patterns provided shorter travel routes for foraging ants than would be expected by the random removal of obstacles.