Eusociality is an extraordinary form of cooperation, found in many social insects. In eusocial societies, different ‘castes’ of workers divide labour and each perform highly specialised tasks, with workers foregoing reproduction to help the queen reproduce. This is an evolutionary puzzle because why would workers give up having own offspring, thereby seemingly reducing their own evolutionary success?
I am currently using novel phylogenetic comparative methods and large-scale databases and phylogenies to study the evolution of eusociality in insects. I am aiming to find the traits and (environmental) factors that drive the transition towards this exceptionally successful lifestyle.