Matina Donaldson-Matasci

Assistant Professor of Biology

F.W. Olin Science Center, Room 1243
1250 N. Dartmouth Ave.
Claremont, CA 91711

Education and Professional Experience

  • B.A., Mathematics, Reed College
  • PhD, Biology, University of Washington
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Department of Evolutionary Genetics)
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Arizona (Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology)


  • Bio 186: Topics in Behavioral Ecology (seminar)
  • Bio 110: Experimental Ecology Laboratory

Research Interests

In the Donaldson-Matasci laboratory, we study how colonies of social insects, such as bees and ants, coordinate group behaviors. In particular, communication between group members often shapes the activity of the group as a whole. For example, honey bees use a specialized “dance language” to communicate with their nestmates about the location of food sources, which allows the colony to forage efficiently even as resources change. Turtle ant (Cephalotes) colonies coordinate group defense of multiple nests, based on the value and defensibility of each nest. Using a combination of field experiments with honey bees, laboratory experiments with ants, mathematical models and computer simulations, we explore how different types of communication systems are suited to different types of environments and social structures.

Lab Members 2014

  • Allison Schubauer ’15 (Art)
  • Sarah Nichols ’16 (Engineering)
  • Greta Gadbois ’15 (Mathematical and Computational Biology)

See our lab blog for more information on ongoing student research projects.

Selected Publications

Donaldson-Matasci MC, CT Bergstrom, and M Lachmann (2013). When unreliable cues are good enough. American Naturalist 182 (3): 313-327. [ doi:10.1086/671161 ] [ Honorable Mention, ASN Student Paper Award ]

Donaldson-Matasci MC, G DeGrandi-Hoffman, and A Dornhaus (2013).  Bigger is better: honey bee colonies as distributed information-gathering systems. Animal Behaviour 85 (3): 585-592. [ doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.12.020 ] [ Nature Research Highlight ]

Donaldson-Matasci MC and A Dornhaus. (2012) How habitat affects the benefits of communication in collectively foraging honey bees. Behav Ecol & Sociobiol 66 (4): 583-592. [ doi:10.1007/s00265-011-1306-z ] [ pdf ]

Donaldson-Matasci MC, CT Bergstrom, and M Lachmann. (2010) The fitness value of information. Oikos 119 (2): 219-230.[ doi:10.1111/j.1600-0706.2009.17781.x ] [ pdf ]

Donaldson-Matasci MC, M Lachmann, and CT Bergstrom. (2008) Phenotypic diversity as an adaptation to environmental uncertainty. Evol Ecol Research 10 (4): 493-515. [ via EER ] [ pdf ]

Donaldson MC, M Lachmann, and CT Bergstrom. (2007) The evolution of functionally referential meaning in a structured world. J of Theor Biol 246 (2): 225-233. [ doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2006.12.031 ] [ pdf ]