Evolutionary ecology of social insects and their parasites

Theme: Biodiversity, Ecology & Conservation

Primary Supervisor:

Mark Brown

School of Biological Sciences, RHUL

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Project Description:

Social insects – ants, bees, wasps, and termites – provide key ecosystem services (e.g., pollination, seed dispersal, soil turnover) to natural and anthropogenically-driven ecosystems. Consequently, understanding their biology is a key focus of ecologists and evolutionary biologists.

In addition, their unique social lifestyle makes them an excellent system in which to investigate host-parasite interactions. We focus on understanding the epidemiology, evolution of virulence, and resistance mechanisms of social-insect/parasite interactions, mainly in bees (bumblebees and honeybees) and ants.

We also work on understanding the basic biology of bumblebees and other social insects, which is still surprisingly unknown, despite decades of study. There are always ongoing and potential research projects available to PhD students, so for further information, please contact me.

Policy Impact of Research:

Bees, ants, and wasps play central roles in natural and anthropogenically-driven ecosystems. Understanding their biology, and pressures on it from natural and emergent parasites, will enable us to manage wild populations for biodiversity and human health.

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