I’m interested in how animals get around in the world — and bees are a good model for that kind of behavior.

Elizabeth Capaldi Evans

Hot summer days finds bees buzzing around the blooms and swarming around their hives. Everybody's familiar with such scenes, but most people probably don't know that bees need practice flights to learn how to find their way from their hives to their food sources and back again.

For that knowledge we can thank Elizabeth Capaldi Evans, director of the University's highly acclaimed animal behavior program. An expert in invertebrate behavior, she has shown through her research that even though bees' brains are tiny, they can learn by doing, and can process and store complex information.

"The main question I'm interested in is, how do animals get around in the world — and bees are a good model for that kind of behavior," Evans says. "Through my research, I'm trying to find out what common strategies insects use to solve these basic problems, whether there are relationships between the structure of their brains and their ability to solve problems, and if invertebrate brains work like vertebrate brains." || Ask the Experts: Elizabeth Capaldi Evans on Bees

Evans conducts her research in central Pennsylvania as well as in Panama as a Smithsonian fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI).

Her most recent book is titled Why Do Bees Buzz? Fascinating Answers to Questions About Bees.

Teaching areas

  • Animal Behavior
  • Social Insect Biology
  • Tropical Ecology
  • Neuroethology
  • General Biology

Research interests

  • Neuroethology
  • Studies of the insect brain
  • Studies of honey bee biology, including harmonic radar
  • Comparative studies of tropical bees, brains, and behaviors
  • Native bee distributions in Pennsylvania

Recent publications

  • Evans, E.C. & C.A. Butler. 2010. Why Do Bees Buzz? Fascinating Answers to Questions About Bees. Rutgers University Press: Piscataway, NJ.
  • Shah, K.S. E.C. Evans, & M.C. Pizzorno. 2009. Localization of deformed wing virus (DWV) in the brains of the honeybee, Apis mellifera L. Virology Journal 6:182 (30 October 2009).
  • Capaldi, E.A, S.N. Benson & W.McDiffett. 2008. Native bee diversity in the Central Susquehanna Valley of Pennsylvania. Journal of the Pennsylvania Academy of Sciences 81(2/3): 53-58.
  • Capaldi, E.A., C.J. Flynn & W.T. Wcislo. 2007. Sex ratio and nest observations of Euglossa hyacinthina (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Euglossini). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 80(4): 395-399.
  • Clause, A.R. & E.A. Capaldi. 2006. Caudal autotomy and regeneration in lizards, Journal of Experimental Zoology 305A: 965-973.
  • Sullivan, J.P., Fahrbach, S.E., Harrison, J.F., Capaldi, E.A., Fewell, J.H. and G.E. Robinson. 2003. Juvenile hormone and division of labor in honey bee colonies: Effects of allatectomy on flight behavior and metabolism. Journal of Experimental Biology 206: 2287-96.
  • Capaldi, E.A., A.D. Smith, J.L. Osborne, S.E. Fahrbach, S.M. Farris, A.S. Edwards, D.R. Reynolds, A. Martin, G.E. Robinson, G. Poppy, and J.R. Riley. 2000. Ontogeny of orientation flight in the honeybee revealed by harmonic radar. Nature 403: 537-540.

Updated Feb. 18, 2010

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