Dr Tanya Latty

Research and Teaching Fellow in Entomology
Centre for Carbon, Water and Food
School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Member of Sydney Institute of Agriculture

C81 - ATP - The Biomedical Building
The University of Sydney

Telephone +61 2 8627 1122
Fax + 61 2 8627 1099

Website Homepage

Biographical details

Tanya Latty is an entomologist with a special interest in insect behaviour and ecology. She has a Bsc in Biology and Environmental Science from Trent University (Canada), and a PhD in insect ecology from the University of Calgary (Canada). Her highly interdisciplinary work involves local and international collaborations with researchers in a broad range of fields including mathematics, computer science, forestry and operations research.

Research interests

Tanya Latty’s work focuses around three themes:

  1. Collective behaviour and swarm intelligence. Ants, bees and slime moulds are capable of achieving amazing feats of problem solving despite having small, or in the case of the slime moulds, no brains. How do they accomplish this? Understanding how simple systems solve complex problems can lead to the development of new bio-inspired technologies and computer algorithms. As such, Tanya works closely with mathematicians, computer scientists and operations researchers to apply what she learns from nature toward solving some of our most difficult technological problems.
  2. The ecology and behaviour of Australian native bees. Australia is home to at least 1600 species of native bee, yet we know almost nothing about the ecology and behaviour of the majority of species. Tanya is particularly interested in the potential role of native bees as alternative/supplementary pollinators in both rural and urban agricultural settings.
  3. Integrated pest management. Understanding the behaviour and ecology of pest insects allows for the development of novel, sustainable management strategies. Tanya is particularly interested in the behaviour and ecology of social and semi-social pest insects.

Teaching and supervision

Tanya teaches the undergraduate unit in entomology (ENTO2001).

Current research students

Project title Research student
Assessing the role of environmental complexity on decision making and foraging strategies in ant species Caitlyn DRAYTON-TAYLOR
Australian native bees as alternative crop pollinators: reproductive and foraging behaviour of Tetragonula sp. stingless bees Francisco GARCIA BULLE BUENO
Making sense of a smelly situation: the effects of pollution on invertebrate memory and behaviour Ryan LEONARD

Current projects

Problem solving in slime moulds:Slime moulds are giant unicellular amoebas. Despite lacking a brain, these bizarre organisms are capable of complex problem solving. We have found that slime moulds are capable of balancing risk and food quality, adjusting their search strategies and balancing their nutritional uptake. I am broadly interested in exploring the behaviour of these organisms in more detail.

Dynamic problem solving in ants and slime moulds:The goal of this project is to understand how self-organized natural systems are able to solve problems under changing conditions. I aim to examine the mechanisms that allow these types of decisions to be made in two different decentralized systems: ant colonies and slime moulds. This is part of an international collaboration between the labs of Dr. Madeleine Beekman, Dr. Martin Middendorf, Dr. David Sumpter and Dr. Toshi Nakagaki.

Self-organised transportation networks in ants and slime moulds:I am interested in the structure, function and development of ant transportation networks. Human engineers and urban planners face the task of designing efficient and cost effective networks. Since building longer roads/tracks requires more resources (and is therefore more costly), a challenge for engineers is to design transportation networks that minimise resource use while still maintaining connectivity between cities, stations etc. Similar problems are faced by ant colonies which build trail networks to connect multiple nests to many food sources. How do ants 'design' transportation networks in the absence of centralised control? What, if anything, do ants optimise when building networks? This work is done in close collaboration with computer scientist Kai Ramsch at the University of Leipzig. In addition to these main projects, I have also worked on a number of organisms including: bark beetles, honey bees, banana slugs, Laricobius nigrinius, and flour beetles.

Ecology and Conservation of Australian Native Bees: Australia is home to 1600+ species of native bee and we know almost nothing about their behaviour and ecology. My research on native bees falls into three main areas: the urban ecology of native bees, developing techniues for increasing native bee abundance and diversity in agricultural areas, and investigating the behavioural ecology of native bees.

In the media

Themes

Agronomy, horticulture and precision agriculture; Environment; Ecology and Evolution; Animal behavior and ecophysiology

Selected grants

2017

  • Secure Pollination for More Productive Agriculture; Lowe A, Oldroyd B, Latty T; AgriFutures Australia/Research and Development Projects.

2016

  • Genetic Resources and Gene Expression Facility for the Macleay Building; Oldroyd B, Byrne M, Latty T; DVC Research/Equipment Grant.
  • Learning from nature: Infrastructure design inspired by resilience in ant colonies and bee hives; Latty T; DVC Research/Brown Fellowships.

2014

  • Toward a pollinator friendly city; Latty T; City of Sydney Council/Environmental Grants.
  • Risky Business: Using biological systems to mitigate risk in supply chains and transportation networks; Garnier S, Bell M, Latty T, Bliemer M; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).
  • Branco Weiss Fellowship; Latty T; Society in Science/The Branco Weiss Fellowship.

2011

  • Tracking moving targets: dynamic foraging in ants and slime moulds; Latty T; Australian Research Council (ARC)/Discovery Projects (DP).

2010

  • NSERC Fellowship; Latty T; National Research Council Canada/Research Support.

2008

  • Conference travel to the International Congress of Entomology, Durban, South Africa, July 2008; Latty T; Ian Potter Foundation/Travel Support.

Selected publications

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Journals

  • Latty, T., Holmes, M., Makinson, J., Beekman, M. (2017). Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) use adaptable transportation networks to track changes in resource quality. Journal of Experimental Biology, 220, 686-694. [More Information]
  • Makinson, J., Threlfall, C., Latty, T. (2017). Bee-friendly community gardens: Impact of environmental variables on the richness and abundance of exotic and native bees. Urban Ecosystems, 20(2), 463-476. [More Information]
  • Bell, M., Perera, S., Piraveenan, M., Bliemer, M., Latty, T., Reid, C. (2017). Network growth models: A behavioural basis for attachment proportional to fitness. Scientific Reports, 7, 1-11. [More Information]
  • Reid, C., Latty, T. (2016). Collective behaviour and swarm intelligence in slime moulds. FEMS Microbiology Reviews, 40(6), 798-806. [More Information]
  • Reid, C., MacDonald, H., Mann, R., Marshall, J., Latty, T., Garnier, S. (2016). Decision-making without a brain: how an amoeboid organism solves the two-armed bandit. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 13(119), 1-8. [More Information]
  • Pettit, L., Latty, T. (2016). Greenhead ants Rhytidoponera metallica make trade-offs between food temperature and food concentration. Ecological Entomology, 41(5), 527-531. [More Information]
  • Middleton, E., Latty, T. (2016). Resilience in social insect infrastructure systems. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 13(116), 1-13. [More Information]
  • Byatt, M., Chapman, N., Latty, T., Oldroyd, B. (2016). The genetic consequences of the anthropogenic movement of social bees. Insectes Sociaux, 63(1), 15-24. [More Information]
  • Cabanes, G., van Wilgenburg, E., Beekman, M., Latty, T. (2015). Ants build transportation networks that optimize cost and efficiency at the expense of robustness. Behavioral Ecology, 26(1), 223-231. [More Information]
  • Beekman, M., Latty, T. (2015). Brainless but Multi-Headed: Decision Making by the Acellular Slime Mould Physarum polycephalum. Journal of Molecular Biology, 427(23), 3734-3743. [More Information]
  • Tan, K., Latty, T., Dong, S., Liu, X., Wang, C., Oldroyd, B. (2015). Individual honey bee (Apis cerana) foragers adjust their fuel load to match variability in forage reward. Scientific Reports, 5(16418), 1-7. [More Information]
  • Reid, C., Garnier, S., Beekman, M., Latty, T. (2015). Information integration and multiattribute decision making in non-neuronal organisms. Animal Behaviour, 100, 44-50. [More Information]
  • Bottinelli, A., van Wilgenburg, E., Sumpter, D., Latty, T. (2015). Local cost minimization in ant transport networks: From small-scale data to large-scale trade-offs. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 12(112), 1-12. [More Information]
  • Tan, K., Dong, S., Liu, X., Chen, W., Wang, Y., Oldroyd, B., Latty, T. (2015). Phantom alternatives influence food preferences in the eastern honeybee Apis cerana. Journal of Animal Ecology, 84(2), 509-517. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Beekman, M. (2015). Slime moulds use heuristics based on within-patch experience to decide when to leave. Journal of Experimental Biology, 218, 1175-1179. [More Information]
  • Perna, A., Latty, T. (2014). Animal transportation networks. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 11(100), 1-13. [More Information]
  • Yip, V., Beekman, M., Latty, T. (2014). Foraging strategies of the acellular slime moulds Didymium iridis and Didymium bahiense. Fungal Ecology, 11, 29-36. [More Information]
  • Tan, K., Latty, T., Hu, Z., Wang, Z., Yang, S., Chen, W., Oldroyd, B. (2014). Preferences and tradeoffs in nectar temperature and nectar concentration in the Asian hive bee Apis cerana. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 68(1), 13-20. [More Information]
  • Reid, C., Beekman, M., Latty, T., Dussutour, A. (2013). Amoeboid organism uses extracellular secretions to make smart foraging decisions. Behavioral Ecology, 24(4), 812-818. [More Information]
  • Young, H., Reid, T., Randall, L., Lachowsky, L., Foster, D., Pengelly, C., Latty, T., Reid, M. (2013). Influences of Movement Behavior on Animal Distributions at Edges of Homogeneous Patches. International Journal of Zoology, 2013, 1-8. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Beekman, M. (2013). Keeping track of changes: the performance of ant colonies in dynamic environments. Animal Behaviour, 85(3), 637-643. [More Information]
  • Lihoreau, M., Latty, T., Chittka, L. (2012). An exploration of the social brain hypothesis in insects. Frontiers in Physiology, 3, 1-7. [More Information]
  • Granovskiy, B., Latty, T., Duncan, M., Sumpter, D., Beekman, M. (2012). How dancing honey bees keep track of changes: the role of inspector bees. Behavioral Ecology, 23(3), 588-596. [More Information]
  • Reid, C., Latty, T., Beekman, M. (2012). Making a trail: informed Argentine ants lead colony to the best food by U-turning coupled with enhanced pheromone laying. Animal Behaviour, 84(6), 1579-1587. [More Information]
  • Symonds, M., Magrath, M., Latty, T. (2012). Reproductive Consequences of Male Arrival Order in the Bark Beetle, Ips grandicollis. Journal of Insect Behavior, 25(4), 401-407. [More Information]
  • Reid, C., Latty, T., Dussutour, A., Beekman, M. (2012). Slime mold uses an externalized spatial "memory" to navigate in complex environments. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 109(43), 17490-17494. [More Information]
  • Nicolis, S., Zabzina, N., Latty, T., Sumpter, D. (2011). Collective irrationality and positive feedback. PloS One, 6(4), 1-6. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Beekman, M. (2011). Irrational decision-making in an amoeboid organism: transitivity and context-dependent preferences. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 278(1703), 307-312. [More Information]
  • Wallin, K., Latty, T., Ross, D. (2011). Orientation Behavior of the Predator Laricobius nigrinus (Coleoptera: Derodontidae) to Hemlock Woolly Adelgid and Host Tree Odors in a Multi-Chambered Olfactometer. Environmental Entomology, 40(4), 864-872. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Beekman, M. (2011). Speed-accuracy trade-offs during foraging decisions in the acellular slime mould Physarum polycephalum. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 278(1705), 539-545. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Ramsch, K., Ito, K., Nakagaki, T., Sumpter, D., Middendorf, M., Beekman, M. (2011). Structure and formation of ant transportation networks. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 8(62), 1298-1306. [More Information]
  • Dussutour, A., Latty, T., Beekman, M., Simpson, S. (2010). Amoeboid organism solves complex nutritional challenges. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 107(10), 4607-4611. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Beekman, M. (2010). Food quality and the risk of light exposure affect patch-choice decisions in the slime mold Physarum polycephalum. Ecology, 91(1), 22-27. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Reid, M. (2009). First in line or first in time? Effects of settlement order and arrival date on reproduction in a group-living beetle Dendroctonus ponderosae. Journal of Animal Ecology, 78(3), 549-555. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Beekman, M. (2009). Food quality affects search strategy in the acellular slime mould, Physarum polycephalum. Behavioral Ecology, 20(6), 1160-1167. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Magrath, M., Symonds, M. (2009). Harem size and oviposition behaviour in a polygynous bark beetle. Ecological Entomology, 34(5), 562-568. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Duncan, M., Beekman, M. (2009). High bee traffic disrupts transfer of directional information in flying honeybee swarms. Animal Behaviour, 78(1), 117-121. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Reid, M. (2009). Who goes first? Condition and danger dependent pioneering in a group-living bark beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 64(4), 639-646. [More Information]
  • Wallin, K., Latty, T. (2008). Novel intermediate-term individual marking technique for slugs. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 74(3), 299-300. [More Information]
  • Bailey, S., Hargreaves, A., Hechtenthal, S., Laird, R., Latty, T., Reid, T., Teucher, A., Tindall, J. (2007). Empty flowers as a pollination-enhancement strategy. Evolutionary Ecology Research, 9(8), 1245-1262.
  • Latty, T. (2006). Flexible Mate Guarding Tactics in the Dragonfly Sympelrum Internum (Odonata: Libellulidae). Journal of Insect Behavior, 19(4), 469-477. [More Information]

2017

  • Latty, T., Holmes, M., Makinson, J., Beekman, M. (2017). Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) use adaptable transportation networks to track changes in resource quality. Journal of Experimental Biology, 220, 686-694. [More Information]
  • Makinson, J., Threlfall, C., Latty, T. (2017). Bee-friendly community gardens: Impact of environmental variables on the richness and abundance of exotic and native bees. Urban Ecosystems, 20(2), 463-476. [More Information]
  • Bell, M., Perera, S., Piraveenan, M., Bliemer, M., Latty, T., Reid, C. (2017). Network growth models: A behavioural basis for attachment proportional to fitness. Scientific Reports, 7, 1-11. [More Information]

2016

  • Reid, C., Latty, T. (2016). Collective behaviour and swarm intelligence in slime moulds. FEMS Microbiology Reviews, 40(6), 798-806. [More Information]
  • Reid, C., MacDonald, H., Mann, R., Marshall, J., Latty, T., Garnier, S. (2016). Decision-making without a brain: how an amoeboid organism solves the two-armed bandit. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 13(119), 1-8. [More Information]
  • Pettit, L., Latty, T. (2016). Greenhead ants Rhytidoponera metallica make trade-offs between food temperature and food concentration. Ecological Entomology, 41(5), 527-531. [More Information]
  • Middleton, E., Latty, T. (2016). Resilience in social insect infrastructure systems. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 13(116), 1-13. [More Information]
  • Byatt, M., Chapman, N., Latty, T., Oldroyd, B. (2016). The genetic consequences of the anthropogenic movement of social bees. Insectes Sociaux, 63(1), 15-24. [More Information]

2015

  • Cabanes, G., van Wilgenburg, E., Beekman, M., Latty, T. (2015). Ants build transportation networks that optimize cost and efficiency at the expense of robustness. Behavioral Ecology, 26(1), 223-231. [More Information]
  • Beekman, M., Latty, T. (2015). Brainless but Multi-Headed: Decision Making by the Acellular Slime Mould Physarum polycephalum. Journal of Molecular Biology, 427(23), 3734-3743. [More Information]
  • Tan, K., Latty, T., Dong, S., Liu, X., Wang, C., Oldroyd, B. (2015). Individual honey bee (Apis cerana) foragers adjust their fuel load to match variability in forage reward. Scientific Reports, 5(16418), 1-7. [More Information]
  • Reid, C., Garnier, S., Beekman, M., Latty, T. (2015). Information integration and multiattribute decision making in non-neuronal organisms. Animal Behaviour, 100, 44-50. [More Information]
  • Bottinelli, A., van Wilgenburg, E., Sumpter, D., Latty, T. (2015). Local cost minimization in ant transport networks: From small-scale data to large-scale trade-offs. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 12(112), 1-12. [More Information]
  • Tan, K., Dong, S., Liu, X., Chen, W., Wang, Y., Oldroyd, B., Latty, T. (2015). Phantom alternatives influence food preferences in the eastern honeybee Apis cerana. Journal of Animal Ecology, 84(2), 509-517. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Beekman, M. (2015). Slime moulds use heuristics based on within-patch experience to decide when to leave. Journal of Experimental Biology, 218, 1175-1179. [More Information]

2014

  • Perna, A., Latty, T. (2014). Animal transportation networks. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 11(100), 1-13. [More Information]
  • Yip, V., Beekman, M., Latty, T. (2014). Foraging strategies of the acellular slime moulds Didymium iridis and Didymium bahiense. Fungal Ecology, 11, 29-36. [More Information]
  • Tan, K., Latty, T., Hu, Z., Wang, Z., Yang, S., Chen, W., Oldroyd, B. (2014). Preferences and tradeoffs in nectar temperature and nectar concentration in the Asian hive bee Apis cerana. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 68(1), 13-20. [More Information]

2013

  • Reid, C., Beekman, M., Latty, T., Dussutour, A. (2013). Amoeboid organism uses extracellular secretions to make smart foraging decisions. Behavioral Ecology, 24(4), 812-818. [More Information]
  • Young, H., Reid, T., Randall, L., Lachowsky, L., Foster, D., Pengelly, C., Latty, T., Reid, M. (2013). Influences of Movement Behavior on Animal Distributions at Edges of Homogeneous Patches. International Journal of Zoology, 2013, 1-8. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Beekman, M. (2013). Keeping track of changes: the performance of ant colonies in dynamic environments. Animal Behaviour, 85(3), 637-643. [More Information]

2012

  • Lihoreau, M., Latty, T., Chittka, L. (2012). An exploration of the social brain hypothesis in insects. Frontiers in Physiology, 3, 1-7. [More Information]
  • Granovskiy, B., Latty, T., Duncan, M., Sumpter, D., Beekman, M. (2012). How dancing honey bees keep track of changes: the role of inspector bees. Behavioral Ecology, 23(3), 588-596. [More Information]
  • Reid, C., Latty, T., Beekman, M. (2012). Making a trail: informed Argentine ants lead colony to the best food by U-turning coupled with enhanced pheromone laying. Animal Behaviour, 84(6), 1579-1587. [More Information]
  • Symonds, M., Magrath, M., Latty, T. (2012). Reproductive Consequences of Male Arrival Order in the Bark Beetle, Ips grandicollis. Journal of Insect Behavior, 25(4), 401-407. [More Information]
  • Reid, C., Latty, T., Dussutour, A., Beekman, M. (2012). Slime mold uses an externalized spatial "memory" to navigate in complex environments. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 109(43), 17490-17494. [More Information]

2011

  • Nicolis, S., Zabzina, N., Latty, T., Sumpter, D. (2011). Collective irrationality and positive feedback. PloS One, 6(4), 1-6. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Beekman, M. (2011). Irrational decision-making in an amoeboid organism: transitivity and context-dependent preferences. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 278(1703), 307-312. [More Information]
  • Wallin, K., Latty, T., Ross, D. (2011). Orientation Behavior of the Predator Laricobius nigrinus (Coleoptera: Derodontidae) to Hemlock Woolly Adelgid and Host Tree Odors in a Multi-Chambered Olfactometer. Environmental Entomology, 40(4), 864-872. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Beekman, M. (2011). Speed-accuracy trade-offs during foraging decisions in the acellular slime mould Physarum polycephalum. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 278(1705), 539-545. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Ramsch, K., Ito, K., Nakagaki, T., Sumpter, D., Middendorf, M., Beekman, M. (2011). Structure and formation of ant transportation networks. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 8(62), 1298-1306. [More Information]

2010

  • Dussutour, A., Latty, T., Beekman, M., Simpson, S. (2010). Amoeboid organism solves complex nutritional challenges. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), 107(10), 4607-4611. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Beekman, M. (2010). Food quality and the risk of light exposure affect patch-choice decisions in the slime mold Physarum polycephalum. Ecology, 91(1), 22-27. [More Information]

2009

  • Latty, T., Reid, M. (2009). First in line or first in time? Effects of settlement order and arrival date on reproduction in a group-living beetle Dendroctonus ponderosae. Journal of Animal Ecology, 78(3), 549-555. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Beekman, M. (2009). Food quality affects search strategy in the acellular slime mould, Physarum polycephalum. Behavioral Ecology, 20(6), 1160-1167. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Magrath, M., Symonds, M. (2009). Harem size and oviposition behaviour in a polygynous bark beetle. Ecological Entomology, 34(5), 562-568. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Duncan, M., Beekman, M. (2009). High bee traffic disrupts transfer of directional information in flying honeybee swarms. Animal Behaviour, 78(1), 117-121. [More Information]
  • Latty, T., Reid, M. (2009). Who goes first? Condition and danger dependent pioneering in a group-living bark beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 64(4), 639-646. [More Information]

2008

  • Wallin, K., Latty, T. (2008). Novel intermediate-term individual marking technique for slugs. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 74(3), 299-300. [More Information]

2007

  • Bailey, S., Hargreaves, A., Hechtenthal, S., Laird, R., Latty, T., Reid, T., Teucher, A., Tindall, J. (2007). Empty flowers as a pollination-enhancement strategy. Evolutionary Ecology Research, 9(8), 1245-1262.

2006

  • Latty, T. (2006). Flexible Mate Guarding Tactics in the Dragonfly Sympelrum Internum (Odonata: Libellulidae). Journal of Insect Behavior, 19(4), 469-477. [More Information]

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