David Baracchi

David Baracchi
University of Florence | UNIFI · Dipartimento di Biologia

Associate Professor in Zoology

About

55
Publications
11,987
Reads
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914
Citations
Introduction
In my Lab we work with bees, ants and wasps, both in the lab and at field sites in central Italy and Malaysia to achieve a comprehensive knowledge on how cognitive processes mediate economic decisions and adaptive behaviors in insects Web site: https://socialinsectitaly2.wixsite.com/beelab
Additional affiliations
April 2018 - present
University of Florence
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
April 2018 - April 2022
University of Florence
Position
  • Professor (Assistant)
Description
  • Corso di laurea in Scienze Biologiche (B005) Insegnamento: B016083 - ZOOLOGIA CON LABORATORIO Corso di laurea in Biologia Molecolare e Applicata (B230) Curriculum Biologia Forense(E65) Insegnamento: B028105 - ZOOLOGIA APPLICATA ALLE SCIENZE FORENSI
March 2015 - March 2018
Paul Sabatier University - Toulouse III
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Education
February 2009 - February 2012
University of Florence
Field of study
  • Ethology, Chemical communication, Sociobiology

Publications

Publications (55)
Article
Full-text available
The ability to vary the characteristics of one's voice is a critical feature of human communication. Understanding whether and how animals change their calls will provide insights into the evolution of language. We asked to what extent the vocalizations of penguins, a phylogenetically distant species from those capable of explicit vocal learning, a...
Article
As synthetic pesticides play a major role in pollinator decline worldwide, biopesticides have been gaining increased attention to develop more sustainable methods for pest management in agriculture. These biocontrol agents are usually considered as safe for non-target species, such as pollinators. Unfortunately, when it comes to non-target insects,...
Article
The massive use of plastic has contributed to huge quantities of hazardous refuse at a global scale and represents one of the most prominent issues of the Anthropocene. Microplastics (MPs) have been detected in almost all environments and pose a potential threat to a variety of plant and animal species. Many studies have reported a variety of effec...
Article
Full-text available
Brain plasticity is widespread in nature, as it enables adaptive responses to sensory demands associated with novel stimuli, environmental changes and social conditions. Social Hymenoptera are particularly well-suited to study neuroplasticity, because the division of labor amongst females and the different life histories of males and females are as...
Preprint
Phenotypic plasticity is the capacity of a single genotype to exhibit different phenotypes, and can be an adaptive response to specific environmental and social conditions. Social insects are particularly well-suited to study plasticity, because the division of labor amongst females and the different life histories of males and females are associat...
Article
Individuals differing in their cognitive abilities and foraging strategies may confer a valuable benefit to their social groups as variability may help responding flexibly in scenarios with different resource availability. Individual learning proficiency may either be absolute or vary with the complexity or the nature of the problem considered. Det...
Article
Decision-making processes face the dilemma of being accurate or faster, a phenomenon that has been described as speed-accuracy trade-off in numerous studies on animal behaviour. In social insects, discriminating between colony members and aliens is subjected to this trade-off as rapid and accurate rejection of enemies is of primary importance for t...
Article
Full-text available
Floral nectar is a pivotal element of the intimate relationship between plants and pollinators. Nectars are composed of a plethora of nutritionally valuable compounds but also hundreds of secondary metabolites (SMs) whose function remains elusive. Here we performed a set of behavioural experiments to study whether five ubiquitous nectar non-protein...
Preprint
Full-text available
Decision-making processes face the dilemma of being accurate or faster, a phenomenon that has been described as speed-accuracy trade-off (SAT) in numerous studies on animal behaviour. In social insects, discriminating between colony members and aliens is subjected to this trade-off as rapid and accurate rejection of enemies is of primary importance...
Preprint
Full-text available
Floral nectar is a pivotal element of the intimate relationship between plants and pollinators and its chemical composition is likely to have been shaped by strong selective pressures. Nectars are composed of a plethora of nutritionally valuable compounds but also hundreds of secondary metabolites (SMs) whose ecological role is still not completely...
Article
Full-text available
The entomopathogenic fungus Beauveria bassiana is a widely used biopesticide that is considered as an effective alternative to classical agrochemicals. B. bassiana is thought to be safe for pollinators although little is known about its side-effects on pollinators' behaviour and cognition. Here, we focused on honey bees and used the proboscis exten...
Article
Full-text available
Since their discovery in insects, pheromones are considered as ubiquitous and stereotyped chemical messengers acting in intraspecific animal communication. Here we studied the effect of pheromones in a different context as we investigated their capacity to induce persistent modulations of associative learning and memory. We used honey bees, Apis me...
Article
Full-text available
The ecological and evolutionary success of social insects relies on their ability to efficiently discriminate between group members and aliens. Nestmate recognition occurs by phenotype matching, the comparison of the referent (colony) phenotype to the one of an encountered individual. Based on the level of dissimilarity between the two, the discrim...
Article
Full-text available
The expertise of humans for recognizing faces is largely based on holistic processing mechanism, a sophisticated cognitive process that develops with visual experience. The various visual features of a face are thus glued together and treated by the brain as a unique stimulus, facilitating robust recognition. Holistic processing is known to facilit...
Article
Full-text available
Lateralization is a fundamental property of the human brain that affects perceptual, motor, and cognitive processes. It is now acknowledged that left–right laterality is widespread across vertebrates and even some invertebrates such as fruit flies and bees. Honeybees, which learn to associate an odorant (the conditioned stimulus, CS) with sucrose s...
Research
Full-text available
When foraging in their natural environment, many animals readily complement their personal knowledge with additional social information. To balance the costs and benefits of copying others, animals have to discern situations in which it is more advantageous to use social rather than personal information. Here, we used foraging bumblebees (Bombus te...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, a number of studies have suggested that visual status signaling operates in social wasps. In the paper wasp Polistes dominula, status is thought to be signaled by a region of black pigmentation on the yellow clypeus. Specifically, studies of the invasive North American population have indicated that the clypeal patterning of P. dom...
Article
Full-text available
Pheromones are chemical messengers that trigger stereotyped behaviors and/or physiological processes in individuals of the same species. Recent reports suggest that pheromones can modulate behaviors not directly related to the pheromonal message itself and contribute, in this way, to behavioral plasticity. We tested this hypothesis by studying the...
Article
Full-text available
Ants have recently emerged as useful models for the study of olfactory learning. In this framework, the development of a protocol for the appetitive conditioning of the maxilla-labium extension response (MaLER) provided the possibility of studying Pavlovian odor-food learning in a controlled environment. Here we extend these studies by introducing...
Article
Full-text available
While our conceptual understanding of emotions is largely based on human subjective experiences, research in comparative cognition has shown growing interest in the existence and identification of “emotion-like” states in non-human animals. There is still ongoing debate about the nature of emotions in animals (especially invertebrates), and certain...
Article
Full-text available
Many plants defend themselves against herbivores by chemical deterrents in their tissues and the presence of such substances in floral nectar means that pollinators often encounter them when foraging. The effect of such substances on the foraging behaviour of pollinators is poorly understood. Using artificial flowers in tightly-controlled laborator...
Article
Full-text available
Spatial behaviour of colony members within a nest represents an essential aspect of colony organization. However, little attention has been devoted to the study of this aspect in social insects. A recent study based on a single day of observation showed that colony members of the paper wasp Polistes dominula were spatially arranged on the comb in a...
Chapter
Full-text available
An intriguing feature of most hymenopteran venoms is that they display broad antimicrobial activity. In particular, the venoms of social Hymenoptera (ants, wasps, and bees) represent the most conspicuous source of antimicrobial secretions. In solitary and parasitic species, venom is used to immobilize or kill prey and to preserve them as stored foo...
Article
Full-text available
Social insects excel in discriminating nestmates from intruders, typically relying on colony odours. Remarkably, some wasp species achieve such discrimination using visual information. However, while it is universally accepted that odours mediate a group level recognition, the ability to recognise colony members visually has been considered possibl...
Article
Full-text available
Similarly to the majority of social insects the nest represents for paper wasps an important component of the colony life and it is intimately linked to its social organization. When, in spring, future foundrebes emerge from hibernacula they can choose between building a new nest and reusing an old one. Refurbishing the old nest in order to prepare...
Article
Full-text available
The presence of antimicrobial secondary metabolites in nectar suggests that pollinators, which are threatened globally by emergent disease, may benefit from the consumption of nectars rich in these metabolites. We tested whether nicotine, a nectar secondary metabolite common in Solanaceae and Tilia species, is used by parasitized bumblebees as a so...
Chapter
An intriguing feature of most hymenopteran venoms is that they display broad antimicrobial activity. In particular, the venoms of social Hymenoptera (ants, wasps, and bees) represent the most conspicuous source of antimicrobial secretions. In solitary and parasitic species, venom is used to immobilize or kill prey and to preserve them as stored foo...
Article
Full-text available
The presence of antimicrobial secondary metabolites in nectar suggests that pollinators, which are threatened globally by emergent disease, may benefit from the consumption of nectars rich in these metabolites. We tested whether nicotine, a nectar secondary metabolite common in Solanaceae and Tilia species, is used by parasitized bumblebees as a so...
Article
Full-text available
The presence of antimicrobial secondary metabolites in nectar suggests that pollinators, which are threatened globally by emergent disease, may benefit from the consumption of nectars rich in these metabolites. We tested whether nicotine, a nectar secondary metabolite common in Solanaceae and Tilia species, is used by parasitized bumblebees as a so...
Article
Full-text available
Social insects have evolved sophisticated recognition systems enabling them to accept nest-mates but reject alien conspecifics. In the social wasp, Liostenogaster flavolineata (Stenogastrinae), individuals differ in their cuticular hydrocarbon profiles according to colony membership; each female also possesses a unique (visual) facial pattern. This...
Article
Full-text available
Communal nesting, rare in the crabronid wasps, has been recorded for various species in the Spilomenina clade of the Pemphredoninae. A new communally nesting species, Spilomena socialis, is described from peninsular Malaysia where it nested on buildings at Bukit Fraser. The nest consists of a group of closely spaced clusters of vertically oriented...
Article
Full-text available
Complex insect societies are formed by thousands to millions of individuals which incessantly interact in the sheltered nest space under the constant pressure of different challenges, such as infectious disease and group coordination. Understanding how colony members interact in space and time may therefore help unravelling how different evolutiona...
Chapter
Le malattie possono influire seriamente sulla sopravvivenza e sul successo riproduttivo degli organismi viventi e rappresentano un potente agente di selezione naturale. La crescente consapevolezza dello stretto rapporto che intercorre tra socialità e malattie ha portato negli ultimi anni a un interesse sempre più vivo da parte della comunità scient...
Article
The social biology of the wasp Parischnogaster striatula has been studied in Peninsular Malaysia. This species shows the main characteristics of hover wasps (Vespidae, Stenogastrinae) which set them aside from the other social Vespidae. These include the use of an abdominal secretion in brood rearing, the three-phase egg deposition and the presence...
Article
Detection and identification of fungal cryptic species has been facilitated by DNA sequencing. However, the examination of some phenotypic traits is fundamental for the confirmation of genetic results. MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry has shown remarkable reliability in the recognition of species-specific phenotypic markers and has already been tested i...
Article
Both recognition and conventional signals are widespread in the animal kingdom. Chemical communication plays a major role in invertebrates, and especially in social insects. In the last decade, observational and experimental evidence has shown the existence of visual quality signals and individual recognition cues in Polistes paper wasps, meaning t...
Article
Full-text available
Sociality is associated with an increased risk of disease transmission and one of the first defense of the insect colonies is represented by antimicrobial secretions. In many eusocial hymenopteran species venom glands represent one of the most important source of antimicrobial substances. It is known that in highly eusocial species the venom is spr...
Article
Full-text available
The honey bee colonies, with the relevant number of immature brood and adults, and stable, high levels of humidity and temperatures of their nests, result in suitable environments for the development of microorganisms including pathogens. In response, honey bees evolved several adaptations to face the increased risks of epidemic diseases. As the an...
Article
Full-text available
The phylogeny of the Stenogastrinae wasps is still under discussion and their systematic incomplete. In the present work we used geometric morphometrics, a technique based on a rigorous statistical assessment of shape, to compare the forewings of fifteen species of Stenogastrinae wasps belonging to four different genera to ascertain whether this ap...
Article
Full-text available
The red palm weevil, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Olivier) (Coleoptera Dryophthoridae), is an important pest of palms. Knowledge of both its natural enemies and its defensive mechanisms against predators and microorganisms is important to develop methods for an integrated pest control. Antimicrobial activity of the cuticular surface of adults and la...
Article
Full-text available
The predatory behaviour of Vespa crabro hornets on the honeybee Apis mellifera ligustica and the counter strategy of the prey were observed and described in two apiaries of 27 and 41 colonies in Central Italy. Observations were carried out in the second half of October and accompanied by experiments aimed at determining the mechanisms of honeybee d...
Article
The Stenogastrinae wasps have been proposed as a key group for an understanding of social evolution in insects, but the phylogeny of the group is still under discussion. The use of chemical characters, in particular cuticular hydrocarbons, for insect taxonomy is relatively recent and only a few studies have been conducted on the cuticular polar sub...
Article
Full-text available
In order to understand how the apparent freedom of individual movements can concur with social order in a colony, we investigated spatial relationships between foundresses, workers and immature brood in a paper wasp. This is the first time an ecological analytical approach (home range analysis) has been employed to describe small scale spatial use...
Article
Distribution of mobile organisms on near-continent islands is mainly shaped by factors operating over ecological rather geological time. However, the phylogeography of single species has the potential to expose historical factors at work. In the present study, West Mediterranean populations of the butterfly Maniola jurtina are studied using geometr...
Article
The fraction between 950 and 4000Da of the venom of Apis mellifera has been analyzed with MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry and statistical facilities of the ClinProTools software. Consistent differences in the composition of this venom fraction were observed between queens and workers while younger and older workers (nurses and guards as well as forager...
Article
Full-text available
The basic social biology and nest architecture of the social wasp Liostenogaster topographica Turillazzi 1999 were studied in Peninsular Malaysia. This species shows the main shared characteristics of hover wasps (Vespidae Stenogastrinae), including the use of an abdominal secretion in brood rearing and the presence on the nest of several females w...
Article
Full-text available
Parischnogaster mellyi is a common species of hover wasp which lives in the Oriental Region. In this research we wanted to achieve a deeper understanding of some aspects of its social biology and chemical ecology considering the composition of colonies, the reproductive poten-tial of the female nest-mates, the chemical similarities between the adul...

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Projects

Project (1)
Archived project
We propose to study the modulator effect of pheromones on experience-dependent behaviour of three species, the honeybee Apis mellifera, the ant Camponotus aethiops and the moth Agrotis ipsilon, in order to determine the mechanisms that are either conserved across species or species-specific and associable with particular life-styles.