Tate Holbrook, PhD

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology

Degrees and Certifications

  • BS, Biology, University of North Carolina at Asheville, 2004
  • PhD, Biology, Arizona State University, 2011


  • Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology: Lynchburg College, 2011-present
  • Graduate Research Assistant: Arizona State University
  • Research Assistant: University of Houston
  • Research Assistant: University of North Carolina at Asheville

Teaching Areas

  • Introductory Biology (majors and non-majors)
  • Ecology
  • Animal Biology

Professional Interests/Research

My research focus is behavioral ecology and sociobiology, and my primary study subjects are social insects. Social insects, such as ants and bees, are incredibly abundant animals with vast ecological and economic impacts. Their diverse societies, which range from loose aggregates of several individuals to tightly-integrated colonies with up to millions of workers, are also leading models for the study of social organization and evolution. I am broadly interested in mechanisms of collective organization, the evolution of social complexity, causes and consequences of colony size, and the ecology of social behavior. These themes invite integrative approaches that cross levels of organization (e.g., genes, individuals, colonies), levels of analysis (proximate and ultimate questions), and research environments (laboratory and field).

Selected examples of my work (asterisks indicate undergraduate contributors):

  • Moore, D., Holbrook, C.T., Meadows, M.G. and Taylor, L.A. (in press) The mating game: a classroom activity for undergraduates that explores the evolutionary basis of sex roles. American Biology Teacher.
  • Holbrook, C.T., Barden, P.M.* and Fewell, J.H. 2011. Division of labor increases with colony size in the harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus. Behavioral Ecology. 22(5): 960-966.
  • Waters, J.S., Holbrook, C.T., Fewell, J.H., and Harrison, J.F. 2010. Allometric scaling of metabolism, growth, and activity in whole colonies of the seed-harvester ant Pogonomyrmex californicus. American Naturalist 176(4): 501-510.
  • Holbrook, C.T., Clark, R.M., Moore, D., Overson, R.P., Penick, C.A., and Smith, A.A. 2010. Social insects inspire human design. Biology Letters 6(4): 431-433.
  • Holbrook, C.T., Clark, R.M., Jeanson, R., Bertram, S.M., Kukuk, P.F., and Fewell, J.H.. 2009. Emergence and consequences of division of labor in associations of normally solitary sweat bees. Ethology 115 (4): 301-310.
  • Jeanson, R., Clark, R.M., Holbrook, C.T., Bertram, S.M., Fewell, J.H., and Kukuk, P.F. 2008. Division of labour and socially induced changes in response thresholds in associations of solitary halictine bees. Animal Behaviour 76(3): 593-602.
  • Cole, B.J., Edwards, R., Holbrook, C.T., Holm, L., Heyward, J., and Wiernasz, D.C. Does foraging activity affect foraging success in the western harvester ant (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)? Annals of the Entomological Society of America 101(1): 272-276.
  • Holbrook, C.T., Strehl, C.P, Johnson, R.A., and Gadau, J. 2007. Low queen mating frequency in the seed-harvester ant Pogonomyrmex (Ephebomyrmex) pima: implications for the evolution of polyandry. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 62(2): 229-236.

Professional Associations and Affiliations

  • Animal Behavior Society
  • Entomological Society of America
  • International Society for Behavioral Ecology
  • International Union for the Study of Social Insects
Tate Holbrook