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Experimental and theoretical study of dominance hierarchy and policing in a queenless ant


Research objectives and content
The project will investigate reproductive conflict in the queenless ant Dinoponera quadriceps using both l experimental and theoretical approaches. Theoretical studies using inclusive fitness techniques will investigate conditions favouring either stability or change in the female dominance hierarchy, and the optimal length of the hierarchy. Experimental studies using laboratory colonies will investigate the role of 9-hentriacontene in egg recognition and policing by the alpha female, in the recognition of alpha by other females, and the relationship between alpha's cuticular chemistry and her behaviour in maintaining status. My previous research has shown that alpha's cuticle differs from other females' only in having elevated levels of 9-hentriacontene.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact) I will learn inclusive fitness modelling techniques and strengthen my background in behavioural ecology. I will also broaden my experience with social insects, by learning apiculture, and bee and wasp biology. This will greatly improve my ability to carry out research in social evolution, to teach, and to develop industriallinks.
Links with industry / industrial relevance (22) Reproduction in D. quadriceps will be filmed by the BBC as part of a series entitled 'Baffle of the Sexes'. My training in honey bee and wasp biology will be linked with Dr. Ratnieks' contacts in the beekeeping and pest control (wasps) industries.


Western Bank
S10 2TN Sheffield
United Kingdom