Philip Newey

<i>Research interests</i> | <i>Curriculum vitae</i>

<i>Research interests</i>

My main interest is in the evolution of animal behaviour: How do the actions of individuals maximize their fitness? Among the most important areas of behaviour are the social interactions among individuals of the same species. This is particularly interesting with regard to animals that form social groups. For group living to be beneficial, each individual needs to know its place and role within the society. This may include the formation of hierarchies, an appropriate division of labour, a way to differentiate between group members and others, and an efficient method of communication. We might expect a successful group-living species to have developed a social structure that most efficiently meets the needs of the group. Some of the most complex and diverse societies are formed by eusocial insects: termites, ants and some bees and wasps. They provide an ideal system for studying the behaviour that enables a society to function effectively. My most recent research has been on nestmate recognition in the weaver ant Oecophylla smaragdina. In my current project I study the division of labour in Camponotus fellah. Among the questions I hope to explore are: Does the division of labour follow a temporal pattern, with workers adopting new roles as they age (temporal polyethism), or does the division follow another principal (eg. “forage for work”)? What part does experience play in the ability of an individual to perform a particular task? What are the mechanisms that trigger a change in behaviour? How readily are workers able to change roles? What is the purpose of “idle” workers within the colony? Most of the research will involve the observation and experimental manipulation of C. fellah colonies maintained in the laboratory.


<i>Curriculum vitae</i>

Born 21 June 1957.

From 2009
First assistant, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
“The Division of Labour in insect societies”
Advisor: Laurent Keller

2006 - 2009
PhD, James Cook University (Cairns, Queensland, Australia), School of Marine and Tropical Biology (Prof. Ross Crozier and Assoc. Prof. Simon Robson).
Thesis: “Colony-mate recognition in the weaver ant Oecophylla smaragdina.”

BSc (Hons 1st Class), James Cook University (Cairns, Queensland, Australia).

PhD, Flinders University (Adelaide, South Australia), Faculty of Theology (Prof. John Gaden)


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