Category Archives: News

Sampling European Hornets

We went to sample some Vespa crabro workers at the end of the summer. MSci student Iona had previously located the active nest within a public park. PhD student Owen and Lewis joined the fieldtrip one Friday afternoon in North London. Postdoc Emeline brought tubes and protective gear, while Hornet expert John arrived with an appropriate net.   The nest was busy with workers and (at least) one male going in and out of the tree hole. At this time

New paper published: first social wasp genome and more…!

Queen or worker? Flexibility between roles relies on just a few genes Two insect species from Latin America, the dinosaur ant and the red paper wasp, have been used to uncover the molecular mechanisms underpinning queen and worker roles in social insects. The research by an international team of scientists brings us closer to understanding how genomes are used to generate castes in social evolution. Researchers from the University of Bristol, the Babraham Institute (Cambridge, UK) and the Centre for

‘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

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