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PhD Student

Sebastian Köthe

Gebäude: 26.13
Etage/Raum: U1.41
Tel.: +49 211 81-13058

Research interests

  • Colour vision systems of bees
  • Stingless bees
  • Flower colour
  • Plant-insect interactions
  • Pollination biology
  • Insect behaviour


  • Since 3/2016 PhD student at the Institute of Sensory Ecology, Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Germany
  • 2013-2015 Master of Science at the University of Düsseldorf, Germany, "Influence of pollen grain properties on the pollen collecting behaviour of corbiculate bees"
  • 2010-2013 Bachelor of Science at the University of Düsseldorf, Germany, "Influence of gravity and light on flower symmetry of Saxifraga cuneifolia and S. stolonifera"
  • 1989 born in Wuppertal, Germany

Research project

Colour preferences of stingless bees

Flower choice in bees mainly depends on olfactory and visual cues. Especially species like the Western honeybee (Apis mellifera) or the Buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris), which contribute to crop pollination, are studied so far (e.g. Lunau 1990; Lunau and Maier 1995; Lunau et al.1996). Many stingless bees (Meliponini) of the tropics and Australia that are ecologically and agriculturally important are highly understudied.

My research focuses on colour preferences of stingless bees with special regard to the colour parameters dominant wavelength (= hue), colour intensity (= brightness) and spectral purity (= saturation). The experiments take place in natural habitats of stingless bees in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Melbourne, Australia, in cooperation with Isabel Alves-dos-Santos and Adrian Dyer respectively. Our aim is to analyse innate and learned colour preferences and compare these to findings regarding more frequently studied species like A. mellifera and B. terrestris. These results shall help us understanding the flower choice and foraging strategies of stingless bees.

Conference contributions

Koethe S, Lunau K (2015) Spiny protection: Pollen characteristic affect the ability to collect pollen in corbiculate bees. Talk at the 29th annual meeting of the Scandinavian Association of Pollination Ecology (SCAPE) in Silkeborg, Denmark.

Koethe S, Bloemer J, Backhaus T, Lunau K (2015) Flower power and insect vision: How floral symmetry guides insect pollinators. Poster at the 28. Westdeutscher Entomologentag in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Engels M, Roeders JN, Koethe S, Lunau K (2015) Putzen sich Nektarsammlerinnen anders als Pollensammlerinnen: Ein Vergleich von Honigbienen und Erdhummeln. Posterbeitrag: 28. Westdeutscher Entomologentag in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Verantwortlich für den Inhalt: E-Mail sendenProf. Dr. Klaus Lunau