Dr Elli Leadbeater
Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow
- 2011-ongoing: Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow, Institute of Zoology, London.
- 2008-2011 Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Sussex, UK.
- 2004-2008 PhD, Queen Mary University of London, UK.
- 2002-2004 MSc., Leiden University, the Netherlands (Leverhulme Trust Study Abroad Studentship).
- 1997-2001 BSc.(Hons) Zoology, University of Edinburgh.
I'm interested in the biology of animal societies, using paper wasps and bumblebees as model systems.
Evolution of society
I am interested in both the ultimate evolutionary drivers of sociality, and the mechanistic routes by which social evolution occurs. My work on the paper wasp Polistes dominulus has focussed on comparisons of direct and indirect fitness in the evolution of wasp social groups. My latest project centers around a rather different model: the eusocial "honey wasp", native to Central America and South Texas. Honey wasps (Brachygastra mellifica) are epiponines, and nests can contain several thousand individuals, producing vast honeycombs. My work will compare caste differences in gene expression between honey wasps and honeybees, which share a solitary common ancestor.
You can watch sample collection by my team, at our field site in Texas, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVl_lJLHpqo
Social information use in insects
Insects can use two forms of social information to find food- cues that their nestmates provide inadvertently (for example, olfactory footprints left on flowers), or recruitment signals that have evolved specifically for communication. I am currently interested social information use in large-colony social wasps, some of which share similar foraging habits to bees but represent an independent origin of sociality. My previous work in this area has focussed on the role of social cues in the spread of nectar robbing, and in learning about floral rewards, in the bumblebee Bombus terrestris.
Dawson, E.H., Avargues-Weber, A., Chittka, L.and Leadbeater, E.* 2013. Learning by observation arises from simple associations in an insect model. Current Biology, in press.
Green, J. P.*, Leadbeater, E., Carruthers, J. M., Rosser, N. S., Lucas, E. R. & Field, J. 2013. Clypeal patterning in the paper wasp Polistes dominulus: no evidence of adaptive value in the wild. Behavioral Ecology, in press.
Lengronne, T.*, Leadbeater, E., Patalano, S., Dreier, S., Field, J., Sumner, S., Keller, L. 2012 Little effect of seasonal constraints on population genetic structure in eusocial paper wasps. Ecology and Evolution 2:2615-2624
Pohl, N.U., Leadbeater, E., Slabbekoorn, H., Klump, G.M., Langemann, U.* 2012. Great tits in urban noise benefit from high frequencies in song detection and discrimination. Animal Behaviour 83: 711-721
Leadbeater, E.*, Carruthers, J.M., Green, J.P., Rosser, N. and Field, J. 2011. Nest inheritance is the missing source of direct fitness in a primitively eusocial insect. Science *333":874-876.
Leadbeater, E.*, Chittka, L. 2011. Do inexperienced bumblebee foragers use scent marks as social information? Animal Cognition14: 915-919
Grueter C., Leadbeater E. and Ratnieks, F. 2010. Social Learning: The importance of copying others. Current Biology 20:683-685.
Leadbeater E.*, Carruthers J.M., Green J.P., van Heusden J. and Field, J. 2010. Unrelated helpers in a primitively eusocial wasp: is helping tailored towards direct fitness? PLoS ONE 5(8): e11997. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011997
Leadbeater E.* 2009. Social Learning: What do Drosophilia have to offer? Current Biology 19: R378-R380.
Leadbeater E.* and Chittka L. 2009. Bumblebees learn the value of social cues through experience. Biology Letters 5: 310-312.
Leadbeater E.* and Chittka L. 2008. Social information use in foraging insects. In Food Exploitation by Social Insects: Ecological, Behavioral and Theoretical Approaches, Editors: Jarau S. and Hrncir M., CRC press.
Leadbeater E.* and Chittka L. 2008. Social transmission of nectar robbing behaviour in bumblebees. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 275: 1669-1674.
Leadbeater E.* and Chittka L. 2007. Social Learning in insects- from miniature brains to consensus building. Current Biology 17: R703-R713.
Leadbeater E.* and Chittka L. 2007. The dynamics of social learning in an insect model, the bumblebee (Bombus terrestris). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 61: 1789-1796.
Leadbeater E., Raine N.E.*, Chittka L. (2006) Social learning: Ants and the meaning of teaching. Current Biology 16: R323-R325.
Chittka L.* and Leadbeater E. 2005. Social learning: public information in insects. Current Biology 15: R869-R871.
Leadbeater E.* and Chittka L. 2005. A new mode of information transfer in foraging bumblebees? Current Biology 15: R869-R871.
Leadbeater E.*, Goller F. and Riebel K. 2005. Unusual phonation, covarying song characteristics and song preferences: female zebra finches are uninspired by inspiratory syllables. Animal Behaviour 70: 909-919.
Evolution & Molecular Ecology
T: +44 (0)20 7449 6626
F: +44 (0)20 7586 2870
Institute of Zoology
Zoological Society of London
London, United Kingdom