Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research


Archive of CBER Events

CBER Research Talk - Dr Alessandro Cini - 16 November 2017

Start: Nov 16, 2017 1:00:00 PM
End: Nov 16, 2017 2:00:00 PM

Title: Keys to the kingdom: how to eavesdrop on social parasite-host relationships to better understand the evolution and regulation of sociality in insects
Speaker:  Dr Alessandro Cini (research profile)
Medawar Building G01 Lankester LT (map)
Abstract: Insect societies represent one of the most intriguing phenomena in the natural world, and while social insects constitute just a tiny percentage of all insect species, they play a crucial role in the functioning in most ecosystems. Their complex societies have fascinated humans for thousand of years, but we are still far from fully understanding how sociality evolved, is maintained and especially how complex insect societies are regulated. Social parasite present an interesting shortcut to our understanding of sociality. These are social insect species that exploit the brood care of other social insects in order to rear their own offspring. In this talk I will draw examples from my research on social parasites of paper wasps to show how we might eavesdrop on the intricate relationship between social parasites and their social host in order to better understand the functioning of insect societies. By addressing topics such as sensory deception, conflicts of interest over reproduction and the molecular basis of phenotypic evolution, I hope to convince the audience that social parasites are the key to the kingdom of insect societies.