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Optimal Foraging

Claire Hemingway, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, is our guest today. Her research is on decision-making in animal cognition, focusing on neotropical bats and bumblebees.

Claire discussed how bumblebees make foraging decisions and how they communicate when foraging. She discussed how they set up experiments in the lab to address questions about bumblebees foraging. She also discussed some nuances between bees in the lab and those in the wild.

Claire discussed factors that drive an animal's foraging decisions. She explained the foraging theory and how a colony works together to optimize its foraging. She also touched on some irrational foraging behaviors she observed in her study.

Claire discussed some techniques bees use to learn from past behaviors. She discussed the effect of climate change on foraging bees' learning behavior.

Claire discussed how bats respond to calling frogs when foraging. She also spoke about choice overload in that they make detrimental decisions when loaded with too many options.

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Hemingway Lab

Claire Hemingway

Claire is broadly interested in the mechanisms, outcomes, and evolutionary consequences of animal decision-making. She conducted my PhD at the University of Texas at Austin and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute where she studied different aspects of learning and decision-making in Neotropical bats. After her PhD, she switched to working on bumblebee decision-making also at the University of Texas at Austin. Her recent work has focused on how bees make decisions when confronted with flowers that have complex signals and rewards.