Lars Chittka

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Lars Chittka
Lars Chittka (cropped).jpg
BornApril 1963 (age 57)
Alma materFree University of Berlin University of Göttingen
Scientific career
FieldsNeuroethology, behavioural ecology, sensory systems, comparative cognition
InstitutionsQueen Mary University of London

University of Würzburg

Stony Brook University

Free University of Berlin
Doctoral advisorRandolf Menzel
Other academic advisorsBert Hölldobler

Lars Chittka, FLS, FRES, FSB (born April 1963) is a German zoologist, ethologist and ecologist distinguished for his work on the evolution of sensory systems and cognition, using insect-flower interactions as a model.

Life and career[edit]

Born in Germany, Chittka studied Biology at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen and the Free University of Berlin.[1][2] He obtained his PhD degree under the supervision of Randolf Menzel at the Free University of Berlin. Chittka is a recipient of the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award[3] and an Advanced Fellowship from the European Research Council (ERC).[4] He is also an elected Fellow of the Linnean Society (FLS), the Royal Entomological Society (FRES) as well as the Royal Society of Biology (FSB).[5] He received the Lesley Goodman Award of the Royal Entomological Society in 2006.[6] Lars Chittka has been an Editor of Biology’s foremost open access journal PLoS Biology since 2004,[7] and has also been on the Editorial Board of Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B (2010-2012) and the Quarterly Review of Biology (2004-2010);[5] he is a member of the Faculty of 1000,[8] and was a Panel Chairman for the European Research Council (2010-2013).[9] He is also the founder of the Research Centre for Psychology at Queen Mary University of London,[1] where he is a Professor of Sensory and Behavioural Ecology.[5]

Research achievements[edit]

Chittka has carried out extensive work on the behaviour, cognition and ecology of bumblebees and honeybees, and their interactions with flowers.[1][2][5] He developed perceptual models of animal colour vision, allowing the derivation of optimal receiver systems as well as a quantification of the evolutionary pressures shaping flower signals. Chittka also made fundamental contributions to the understanding of animal cognition and its fitness benefits in the economy of nature. He explored phenomena such as numerosity, speed-accuracy trade-offs, false memories and social learning in bees.[5] His discoveries have made a substantial impact on the understanding of animal intelligence and its neural-computational underpinnings. He has published over 180 peer-reviewed articles,[5][10] many of them highly cited.[10]


Journal articles: most highly cited[edit]

· Briscoe, A. & Chittka, L. (2001). The evolution of colour vision in insects. Annual Review of Entomology, 46: 471-510.

· Chittka, L., Thomson, J.D. Waser, N.M (1999). Flower constancy, insect psychology, and plant evolution. Naturwissenschaften, 86: 361-377.

· Chittka, L. (1992). The color hexagon: a chromaticity diagram based on photoreceptor excitations as a generalized representation of colour opponency. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 170: 533-543.

· Chittka, L., & Schürkens S. (2001). Successful invasion of a floral market. Nature, 411: 653-653.

· Chittka, L., Shmida, A., Troje, N. & Menzel, R. (1994). Ultraviolet as a component of flower reflections, and the colour perception of hymenoptera. Vision Research, 34: 1489-1508.

Journal articles: recent[edit]

· Alem S., Perry C.J., Zhu X., Loukola O.J., Ingraham T., Søvik E. & Chittka L. (2016) Associative Mechanisms Allow for Social Learning and Cultural Transmission of String Pulling in an Insect. PLoS Biology 14(10): e1002564. doi:10.1371/journal. pbio.1002564.

· Clare, E.L., Schiestl, F.P., Leitch, A.R. & Chittka, L. (2013). The promise of genomics in the study of plant-pollinator interactions. Genome Biology, 14:207.

· Hunt, K. & Chittka, L. (2015). Merging of Long-Term Memories in an Insect. Current Biology, 25:741–745.

· Perry C.J., Baciadonna L. & Chittka L. (2016). Unexpected rewards induce dopamine-dependent positive emotion–like state changes in bumblebees. Science 353(6307):1529-1531; DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf4454.

· Woodgate J. L., Makinson J. C., Lim K. S., Reynolds A. M. & Chittka L. (2016) Life-Long Radar Tracking of Bumblebees. PLoS ONE 11(8): e0160333. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0160333.


Chittka, L. & Thomson, J.D. (eds.) 2001.Cognitive Ecology of Pollination - Animal Behavior and Floral Evolution. Cambridge University Press, 423pp.


  1. ^ a b c Chittka, Lars (2010). "Lars Chittka". Current Biology. 20 (23): R1006–R1008. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2010.09.062.
  2. ^ a b "Uncovering the intelligence of insects, an interview with Lars Chittka". 2010-06-29. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  3. ^ "Royal Society announces new round of esteemed Wolfson Research Merit Awards". Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  4. ^ "Space use by bees– radar tracking of spatial movement patterns of key pollinators | ERC: European Research Council". Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Chittka, Lars. "Chittka Lab - Lars Chittka". Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  6. ^ Society, Royal Entomological (2010-12-06). "RES Goodman Award | Royal Entomological Society". Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  7. ^ "PLOS Biology: A Peer-Reviewed Open-Access Journal". Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  8. ^ "F1000 members".
  9. ^ "ERC 2011 panel members" (PDF).
  10. ^ a b "Lars Chittka - Google Scholar Citations". Retrieved 2016-11-17.