Profile Photo

Floria Mora-Kepfer Uy


  • Assistant Professor


Research Active

Now accepting:

PhD students

Please email with inquiries.

Office Location
332 Hutchison
(585) 275-5330
Web Address

Office Hours: By appointment

Research Overview

Our research is focused on understanding the selective pressures that favor the evolution of social behavior and cooperative group living. We use an integrative approach that employs field and lab behavioral experiments, along with molecular and neural techniques to elucidate the role of relatedness, social interactions and environmental factors in mediating cooperation and group formation.

Adaptive responses in Social Insects

The benefits of cooperation are essential in driving group formation. However, an individual can gain significant fitness benefits by acting selfishly at a substantial cost to others in the group. We use the wasp Mischocyttarus mexicanus to understand the effects of the physical and social environment on individual decisions of group formation and subsequent behavioral and reproductive tactics by colony members. We are also identifying how genomic, physiological and behavioral adaptations can facilitate local adaptation to distinct climatic pressures.

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Evolution and plasticity of sensory systems

How do social animals process information from their physical and social environment to make decisions that enhance their survival and reproductive success? In animal societies where group members are constantly interacting, how do these interactions shape brain architecture and function? To answer these questions, we explore the impact of the social environment in both neurogenomic and physiological responses. In particular, we explore plasticity of sensory systems in Polistes wasps that form flexible dominance hierarchies. We also study how an arms race with social parasites influences investment of sensory brain regions.

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Parasitic manipulation of social hosts

Host and parasite species are in a coevolutionary arms race in which parasites exploit the host for their own fitness benefits, while the host evolves defense mechanisms. While behavioral host manipulation by parasites have been widely studied, less is known about the actual mechanisms underlying parasitic manipulation. To this end, we focus on identifying the neuromodulation signatures of social hosts induced by their obligate endoparasites.

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Photo by Sloan Tomlinson


*Undergraduate co-author  **Graduate co-author 

Research Interests

  • Evolution of sociality
  • Neuroethology
  • Host-parasite interactions
  • Behavioral Ecology
  • Conservation

Selected Publications