Social insects like honeybees and army ants are cool, there is no denying it. But how, and why, do they exist at all? Sociality represents a major transition in evolution: understanding the mechanisms and function of social behaviour provides important insights into one of the most fascinating phenomena in the natural world.
Why do animals live together in societies? How did this evolve, and what are the mechanisms by which sociality and social behaviour arise? These are the questions we go to work thinking about. We are addressing these questions by taking a holistic view of social behaviour, from the differences in gene expression to the observable phenotypes we see in the field. Our favourite study organisms are wasps, bees, ants and termites.
Some of the questions our group are currently addressing include…
- The Big Wasp Survey
- What roles do wasps play in nature?
- Losses in behavioural plasticity and the evolution of altruism
- How do identical genomes produce phenotypic and behavioural diversity?