Dr Elva J H Robinson

Radio-tagged Temnothorax albipennis ant. (C) Nigel Franks
Radio-tagged Temnothorax albipennis ant. © Nigel Franks

Contact details

York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis, Department of Biology (Area 17), University of York, PO Box 373, York YO10 5YW, UK

Research Interests

I am interested in the organisation of ant societies, specifically how the simple behavioural rules followed by individual ants interact to produce adaptive colony-level behaviours. My research in the Ant Lab, Bristol, used Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) technology to investigate the allocation of the work-force to different tasks within the colony, and how this is affected by the responses of individuals to changes in task need. I also used RFID to study how simple individual decision rules can combine to produce unanimous collective decisions. For this work I am studying the British ant Temnothorax albipennis. Previously I have focussed on the organisation of foraging by the use of trail pheromones in the highly successful scavenging Pharaoh's ant Monomorium pharaonis, and the organisation of waste-disposal by the tropical ant Pheidole ambigua.

Currently, I am based at the University of York, where I have a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin fellowship. I am studying the organisation of nest networks in polydomous species of ant, and how network structure relates to adaptive function. More information.

The robustness of ant societies is one of the key factors in their success and makes them a fascinating paradigm of self-organisation. In our modern world, overloaded with information, the necessity of decentralised control is becoming ever more pressing. Understanding more about how ants organise their societies in a flexible dynamic way could lead to new insights into many of our systems.

Key research interests:

Selected Publications (to Nov 2009)


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