Welcome to my research website
This is my personal website; you can find my UEA webpages here.
PHD STUDENTSHIP OPPORTUNITY: A PhD studentship to start in the group in October 2020 is now open for applications. The project is entitled 'The ageing bee: how does sociality affect ageing in social animals?' Using the bumble bee Bombus terrestris, the student will employ experimental and genetic methods to test whether, in social organisms, longevity and ageing depend primarily on properties of the individual or group. Applicants will be competitively selected for funding of the studentship by the ARIES NERC Doctoral Training Partnership.
View further details of the project (BOURKEUBIO20ARIES) and instructions on how to apply.
Closing date for applications: Tuesday 7 January 2020
CONFLICT OVER RESOURCE INHERITANCE: In a new paper in American Naturalist, we develop a model of queen-worker conflict over nest inheritance and test it in the bumble bee Bombus terrestris. As the model predicts, we show that workers harass queens with simulated fecundity loss and that aggressive workers are more likely to become egg-layers. This is consistent with workers monitoring queen fecundity to weigh up the relative benefits of reproducing in the nest after the queen's death versus continuing to keep the queen alive as a source of siblings. These findings provide new support for kin-selected conflict over resource inheritance being a key process in social animals.
The paper is: Almond EJ, Huggins TJ, Crowther LP, Parker JD, Bourke AFG (2019) Queen longevity and fecundity affect conflict with workers over resource inheritance in a social insect. American Naturalist 193: 256-266.
SPATIAL ECOLOGY OF THE TREE BUMBLE BEE: In a new paper in Ecology and Evolution, we use genetic tools to investigate whether specific features of the spatial ecology of the Tree Bumble Bee Bombus hypnorum are associated with its recent rapid range expansion in the UK. Our findings suggest that this range expansion is associated with the UK B. hypnorum population being able (1) to meet its foraging needs over short foraging distances, so reducing the workers' energetic costs of foraging, and (2) to achieve high nest densities, so potentially allowing it to export many queens to new areas.
The paper is: Crowther LP, Wright DJ, Richardson DS, Carvell C, Bourke AFG (2019) Spatial ecology of a range-expanding bumble bee pollinator. Ecology and Evolution 9:986-997.