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Effects of Agrochemicals on Ants – Just the Tip of the Ant Mound?

Figure 2. Six mazes were observed at a time and recordings were staggered. The orientation of each maze was randomly changed to minimise potential biases.

We are a pair of undergraduate students working on our dissertation project in the Sumner Lab. For our project we decided to study the effects that agrochemicals can have on two native UK ant species. Non-target organisms can often become victims of exposure to agricultural chemicals, with the most studied example being the common honeybee (Apis mellifera) [1]. Very little published research is currently available on the effects of agrochemicals on other non-target species [2].

‘What’s the point of wasps?’

We at the Sumner Group encounter this question a lot. Wasps are just useless, painful, and inexplicably determined to ruin your picnic, right? Actually, no! It turns out that wasps are surprisingly important in more ways than you might guess, and we’ve assembled a handy catalogue of reasons why. So next time we’re asked the infamous question by a passing spheksophobe, we’ll be ready with this checklist of reasons to love our flying relations…       Your common garden

IUSSI Conference Cairns 2014

This summer both Seirian and Emily attended the International Union for the Study of Social Insects international conference in Cairns, Australia. The event was hosted in the Cairns Conference Centre next to the Great Barrier Reef and really was a stunning location. Social insect researchers from all over the globe gathered to present and discuss their science. Seirian and Emily successfully gave talks during the week addressing the use of genomics in understanding social evolution and caste plasticity in tropical

Research Published! Colony size predicts division of labour in attine ants


Henry Ferguson-Gow, Seirian Sumner, Andrew F. G. Bourke and Kate E. Jones   Division of labour is central to the ecological success of eusocial insects, yet the evolutionary factors driving increases in complexity in division of labour are little known. The size–complexity hypothesis proposes that, as larger colonies evolve, both non-reproductive and reproductive division of labour become more complex as workers and queens act to maximize inclusive fitness. Using a statistically robust phylogenetic comparative analysis of social and environmental traits

Research Published! A Novel Method of Assessing Dominance Hierarchies Shows Nuance, Linearity and Stability in the Dinosaur Ant Dinoponera quadriceps


Daniel P. Grainger, Claire L. Asher, Julia C. Jones, Fabio S. Nascimento, Seirian Sumner and William O. H. Hughes   Many social species with relatively simple societies have dominance hierarchies of individuals, with dominant individuals achieving fitness and subordinate individuals either queuing to obtain fitness or achieving only indirect fitness by helping relatives. Assessing the dominance hierarchy in a social group is generally based upon observing dyadic interactions as and when they occur spontaneously within the whole-group setting. However, this

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