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Dep. Biology University of Florence
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I was born on 12 April 1950 in Florence, Italy. I got my secondary school diploma in
1967 and then I began to attend courses of Biological Sciences at the University of
Florence. There I had as a teacher in Zoology Prof. Leo Pardi, who was the very first
scientist that began the study of ethology in Italy. Pardi, afterwards, became my tutor
for a research on the social behaviour of Polistes wasps. I graduated on December
1973 with a thesis regarding size differences between castes in Polistes gallicus
(now P. dominula ) with the first class honours. At that time there were no PhD
courses in Italian Universities but I got the PhD degree in Biology some years later
(1988) in a contest at the national level.
After 15 months spent in the obligatory army service as a commissioned officer I won
a 5 years fellowship at the Institute of Zoology of the University of Florence under the
scientific leadership of Leo Pardi in 1975. I was especially interested in studying the
mechanisms of dominance in groups of spring foundresses of Polistes wasps. The
study was preceded by a complete re-arrangement of laboratory rearing system of
Polistes in order to facilitate behavioural observations and experiments and the
development of a simple type of glass cage that is used even today in laboratory
research on these wasps.

The very first years of research
At the end of fellowship in 1980 I got a position of researcher in the same Institute of
Zoology. He performed various researches on Polistes social behaviour and function
and anatomy of exocrine glands of these wasps. At the same time, in 1979, I and
Pardi began a study on the sociobiology of Stenogastrine wasps in a very first
mission to Java (Indonesia). The mission initiated a complex of investigations on
these wasps that are considered fundamental for the comprehension of the evolution
of social behaviour in wasps. The year after I married Cristina and in 1981 both
spent a period of three and half months in Indonesia studying two species of
stenogastrine wasps. The preliminary results of this field research were the object of
a poster presented at the 11th Meeting of the International Union for the Study of
Social Insects (IUSSI) held in Boulder where I met three of the scientists that most
influenced my future scientific work: Mary Jane West Eberhard, Joan Strassmann
and Mike Hansell.
I became Associated Professor of Zoology in 1994 and full professor of Zoology in
In 2001 I received the Award for Botany and Zoology of the Ministero dei Beni
Culturali conferred by The Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei
In 2000 I was accepted at the National Academy of Entomology and in 2004 I
became e corresponding member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.
The development of my research interests, as usual, was moulded by different
factors such as unexpected breakthroughs, personal encounters and different
opportunities of funding, but it had always social insects (wasps, ants and
honeybees) as principal study objects.

Bibliometric Indicators
Scopus (since 1996): 245 articles, 4957 citations, HI=42.
Google Scholar: 8988 citations (2715 from 2016) HI=52 (HI=25 from 2016)
My main contributions deal with a series of topics: 1) social behaviour of Polistine
and Stenogastrine wasps; 2) Social parasitism in Polistes wasps and other social
insects; 3) chemical communication in social insects; 4) description of exocrine
glandular apparatuses of social wasps; 5) description of new species of
Stenogastrine wasps; 6) mating behaviour in Polistine and Stenogastrine wasps; 7)
behaviour and biology of Strepsiptera parasitizing social wasps; 8) wasp venom and
allergic reactions; 9) antimicrobial secretions of social insects; 10) visual
communication in social wasps; 11) social immunity and immune priming in social
insects; 12) Symbiosis between social Insects and fungi. 13) social biology of
Crematogaster ants; 14) studies on other social wasps rather than Polistes and
More recently I focused my interests on general Entomotherapy and I found a small enterprise as a spin off of the University of Firenze named Insect Pharma Entomotherapy srl.