Projects per year
- Director of Research, BIO
- Member, BIO Executive
- Member, BIO Promotions Committee
- Module organizer, Social Evolution (BIO-6011B)
- Deputy Head of School, BIO (2014 - 2017)
- Coordinator, BIO Open Lectures (2012 - 2017)
My research interests lie in the study of social evolution and in the conservation ecology and genetics of social insects. I obtained my B.A. in Zoology from the University of Cambridge in 1983 and my Ph.D. from the University of Bath in 1987. After a Junior Fellowship at the University of Cambridge, I moved to the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, in 1992. At the Institute of Zoology, I was first a Research Fellow, then a Senior Research Fellow, then (from 2003) a Reader. In 2006, I came to UEA as Professor of Evolutionary Biology. I was an Editor, then Editor-in-Chief, of the journal 'Behavioral Ecology' from 2000 to 2006. As well as research papers, review articles and book chapters, I have authored or coauthored two books, 'Social Evolution in Ants' (with Nigel Franks, 1995, Princeton University Press) and 'Principles of Social Evolution' (2011, Oxford University Press).
- 2006 - present: Professor of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences, UEA
- 2003 - 2006: Reader, Institute of Zoology (IoZ), Zoological Society of London (ZSL)
- 1992 - 2002: Research Fellow then Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Zoology, ZSL
- 1988 - 1991: Junior Research Fellow (Jesus College), Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge
- 1983 - 1987: Ph.D., School of Biological Sciences, University of Bath
- 1980 - 1983: B.A. (Hons) Zoology, University of Cambridge
Key Research Interests and Expertise
I am an evolutionary biologist and behavioural ecologist interested in the evolutionary, ecological and genetic basis of social behaviour and in the conservation biology of social insects. Particular research areas and activities include:
- Empirical studies to test hypotheses from inclusive fitness (kin selection) theory using ants and bumble bees
- Conceptual, synthetic and empirical studies that apply insights from the study of social evolution to related domains, examples being the evolution of ageing and the major transitions in evolution
- Developing genetic methods for censusing wild populations of bees with a view to aiding conservation initiatives for these threatened pollinators
- Assessment of agri-environment schemes for bumble bees and the conservation genetics of scarce or declining social insects
We conduct a mixture of laboratory work and field work in the group. For the laboratory work, we rear colonies of ants in our incubators and we either rear our own bumble bee colonies from wild-caught queens or buy in colonies from commercial suppliers, all of which are then maintained under controlled conditions in BIO's recent Controlled Environment Facility. Our study methods include direct observation and filming to investigate within-nest behaviour and the monitoring of wild-reared bumble bee nests placed outside to look at behaviour in a field setting. They also include microsatellite genotyping to measure within-colony relatedness or to investigate space use by free-flying bees, and (with collaborators) qRT-PCR and RNA-Seq to measure gene expression levels. Field techniques include scoring bee biodiversity as a function of landscape features and detailed studies of plant-bee interactions.
We hold a weekly meeting and group lunch to troubleshoot problems and discuss the latest research by ourselves and others. In addition, we benefit from the lively and supportive research environment provided by the Organisms and Environment Research Theme, CEEC and BIO as a whole, as well as the wider Norwich Research Park. Each of these organizations runs seminar programs and social events. Everyone in the group is encouraged to attend and present at national and international conferences such as meetings of ASAB, BES, ESEB, ISBE and IUSSI.
- NERC Peer Review College Core Panel member 2014 -
- NERC Peer Review College member 2005 - 2009
- Editorial Board, 'Ecology Letters' 2010 - present
- Editor, then Editor-in-Chief, 'Behavioral Ecology' 2000 - 2006
- Invited Symposium Speaker, 14th Congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology, University of Lisbon, Portugal 2013
- Plenary Speaker, 16th International Congress of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects, Copenhagen, Denmark 2010
- President, International Union for the Study of Social Insects, North-west European Section 2007 - 2009
Areas of Expertise
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16/10/17 → 11/01/21
1/11/14 → 31/10/16
1/09/14 → 31/08/17
Gene expression during larval caste determination and differentiation in intermediately eusocial bumblebees, and a comparative analysis with advanced eusocial honeybeesCollins, D. H., Wirén, A., Labédan, M., Smith, M., Prince, D. C., Mohorianu, I., Dalmay, T. & Bourke, A. F. G., Feb 2021, In: Molecular Ecology. 30, 3, p. 718-735 18 p.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-reviewOpen AccessFile2 Citations (Scopus)4 Downloads (Pure)
Brock, R. E., Crowther, L. P., Wright, D. J., Richardson, D. S., Carvell, C., Taylor, M. I. & Bourke, A. F. G., 10 Feb 2021, In: Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 288, 1944, 20202639.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-reviewOpen AccessFile2 Citations (Scopus)5 Downloads (Pure)
Bourke, A., Aug 2019, In: Current Opinion in Insect Science. 34, p. 61-67 7 p.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Review article › peer-reviewOpen AccessFile7 Citations (SciVal)10 Downloads (Pure)
Queen longevity and fecundity affect conflict with workers over resource inheritance in a social insectAlmond, E. J., Huggins, T. J., Crowther, L. P., Parker, J. D. & Bourke, A. F. G., 1 Feb 2019, In: The American Naturalist. 193, 2, p. 256-266 11 p.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-reviewOpen AccessFile9 Citations (SciVal)19 Downloads (Pure)