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ElectroBee SIGNED

Mechanisms of electroreception in bees and other terrestrial animals

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 ElectroBee project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the ElectroBee project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "ElectroBee" about.

bearing    sensation    sensitive    mammalian    vibration    extend    honeybees    animal    detect    arise    modality    conductive    electrosensory    escaped    many    ae    transform    opening    understand    evolution    mechanosensory    arm    informative    potentially    biophysical    medium    gymnotid    mormirid    first    terrestrial    mainly    structures    environment    ecology    behavioural    detection    bumblebees    humans    rays    lamprey    coupling    surrounding    model    mechanisms    aerial    electrometers    biologically    functions    adaptive    ecological    had    aquatic    species    showed    animals    putative    discovered    electric    ampere    exploring    foundational    flower    meters    cathodic    little    sense    physical    works    weak    scientific    establishing    sensory    electroreception    entire    vertebrates    near    quantity    arthropods    browsing    basis    generation    date    electro    mechanical    sharks    fish    television    reveal    hairs    hair    coelacanth    dolphin    diversity    poised    platypus   

Project "ElectroBee" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
postcode: BS8 1QU

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country United Kingdom [UK]
 Project website
 Total cost 2˙294˙320 €
 EC max contribution 2˙294˙320 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2016-ADG
 Funding Scheme ERC-ADG
 Starting year 2017
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2017-09-01   to  2022-08-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL UK (BRISTOL) coordinator 2˙294˙320.00


 Project objective

Many animal species can detect the electric fields in their environment. Electroreception has mainly been studied in aquatic vertebrates; fish like sharks and rays, gymnotid and mormirid electric fish, the lamprey, the platypus, the coelacanth, and one mammalian species, a dolphin. We have discovered that bumblebees can detect and learn about the weak electric fields that arise when they approach a flower. This is the first example of electroreception in a non-conductive medium, aerial electroreception (AE). Recently, we showed that AE can be achieved through the electro-mechanical coupling of mechanosensory hairs to the weak electric field surrounding the animal. This is much like the hair-raising sensation humans used to experience by browsing an arm near to a cathodic television set. Yet, humans cannot sense the weak electric fields surrounding a flower, so this potentially informative physical quantity had escaped scientific attention. To date, little is known about AE, its sensory ecology and evolution.

I propose to study the biophysical basis of AE, addressing how and why it works, establishing its adaptive value and exploring its diversity. To achieve this, I will lead research to further understand AE in honeybees and bumblebees, our existing model systems, but also extend research to other arthropods bearing putative electrosensory structures. I will do so using state-of-the-art vibration measurement technology, biologically-relevant electric field generation, sensitive Ampere-meters and electrometers, and behavioural methods. The proposed research will transform our knowledge of electroreception. It will characterize novel detection mechanisms, reveal their adaptive diversity and establish their sensory ecological functions in terrestrial animals. The planned work is poised to be foundational, opening up an entire field of research into this novel, but potentially widespread, sensory modality.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2019 J.C. Matthews, M.D. Wright, D. Clarke, E.L. Morley, H. Silva, A.J. Bennett, D. Robert, D.E. Shallcross
Urban and rural measurements of atmospheric potential gradient
published pages: 42-50, ISSN: 0304-3886, DOI: 10.1016/j.elstat.2018.11.006
Journal of Electrostatics 97 2019-09-02
2019 K.A. Nicoll, R.G. Harrison, V. Barta, J. Bor, R. Brugge, A. Chillingarian, J. Chum, A.K. Georgoulias, A. Guha, K. Kourtidis, M. Kubicki, E. Mareev, J. Matthews, H. Mkrtchyan, A. Odzimek, J.-P. Raulin, D. Robert, H.G. Silva, J. Tacza, Y. Yair, R. Yaniv
A global atmospheric electricity monitoring network for climate and geophysical research
published pages: 18-29, ISSN: 1364-6826, DOI: 10.1016/j.jastp.2019.01.003
Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 184 2019-09-02
2018 Erica L. Morley, Daniel Robert
Electric Fields Elicit Ballooning in Spiders
published pages: 2324-2330.e2, ISSN: 0960-9822, DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2018.05.057
Current Biology 28/14 2019-09-02

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