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Evolutionary ecology of host-parasite relationships

School of Biological Sciences

Egham United Kingdom Ecology Entomology Evolution Parasitology

About the Project

Interactions between parasites and their hosts are one of the major driving forces in ecology and evolution. Social insects, as one of the dominant group of land animals and possessors of complex social systems, provide a fascinating host system within which to study these forces. We use interactions between bumblebees and their parasites to understand (i) epidemiology – how are parasites transmitted between individuals, within colonies, between colonies, and between generations, (ii) why and how does the parasite hurt its host, (iii) how does the host protect itself against the parasite, and (iv) what are the implications of parasitism for host biology. We use a range of laboratory (experimental parasitology, gene expression, population genetics) and field (sampling, experimental) approaches to address these questions. The results of our work informs the broader understanding of host-parasite evolutionary ecology, and has direct value in the quest to support bumblebee health in the natural world.

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