• Title Lecturer
  • Education PhD, Boston University, 2011
  • Phone 617-353-2470
  • Area of Interest Science education and undergraduate mentorship, social behavior, neuroethology, behavioral ecology
  • CV

Current Research

Ants and other social insects live in cooperative colonies in which many related individuals work together as an integrated unit, providing large ecological and evolutionary advantages relative to solitary insects. My research has focused on understanding the sensory, neuromodulatory, and behavioral mechanisms that support the complex task performance of the individual worker ants in these societies. More recently I have worked on projects aimed at understanding how worker brain evolution may be linked to the behavioral, social, ecological, and life history variation that exists among species.

While I still collaborate on active research projects, my primary academic focus is undergraduate education. My goal is to use modern best practices to help students gain the most important concepts and skills required of today’s biologists and neuroscientists. I also draw on my research background to provide hands-on mentorship and advising to the many undergraduate researchers in Biology and Neuroscience.

Selected Publications

  • Waxman HK, Muscedere ML, Traniello JFA (2017) Behavioral performance and neural systems are robust to sensory injury in workers of the ant Pheidole dentata. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 89: 195-208.
  • Muscedere ML, Helms Cahan S, Helms KR, Traniello JFA (2016) Geographic and life-history variation in ant queen colony founding correlates with brain amine levels. Behavioral Ecology 27: 271-278.
  • Ilieş I, Muscedere ML, Traniello JFA (2015) Neuroanatomical and morphological trait clusters in the ant genus Pheidole: evidence for modularity and integration in brain structure. Brain, Behavior and Evolution 85: 63-76.
  • Muscedere ML, Gronenberg W, Moreau CS, Traniello JFA (2014) Investment in higher order central processing regions is not constrained by brain size in social insects. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281: 20140217.
  • Muscedere ML, Johnson N, Gillis BC, Kamhi JF, Traniello JFA (2012) Serotonin modulates worker responsiveness to trail pheromone in the ant Pheidole dentata. Journal of Comparative Physiology A 198: 219-227.
  • Muscedere ML, Traniello JFA (2012) Division of labor in the hyperdiverse ant genus Pheidole is associated with distinct subcaste- and age-related patterns of worker brain organization. PLoS ONE 7: e31618.
  • Muscedere ML, Willey TA, Traniello JFA (2009) Age and task efficiency in the ant Pheidole dentata: young minor workers are not specialist nurses. Animal Behaviour 77: 911-918.
  • Thorne BL, Breisch NL, Muscedere ML (2003) Evolution of eusociality and the soldier caste in termites: influence of intraspecific competition and accelerated inheritance. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 100: 12808-12813.

Courses Taught:

  • BI 105 Introductory Biology for Health Sciences
  • BI/NE 545 Neurobiology of Motivated Behavior

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