Ellouise Leadbeater's research while affiliated with University of London and other places

Publications (65)

Article
Agrochemical formulations are composed of two broad groups of chemicals: active ingredients, which confer pest control action, and ‘inert’ ingredients, which facilitate the action of the active ingredient. Most research into the effects of agrochemicals focusses on the effects of active ingredients. This reflects the assumption that ‘inert’ ingredi...
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Coordinated responses in eusocial insect colonies arise from worker interaction networks that enable collective processing of ecologically relevant information. Previous studies have detected a structural motif in these networks known as the feed-forward loop, which functions to process information in other biological regulatory networks (e.g. tran...
Article
The molecular characterisation of complex behaviours is a challenging task as a range of different factors are often involved to produce the observed phenotype. An established approach is to look at the overall levels of expression of brain genes – or ‘neurogenomics’ – to select the best candidates that associate with patterns of interest. However,...
Article
Honey bees famously use waggle dances to communicate foraging locations to nestmates in the hive, thereby recruiting them to those sites. The decision to dance is governed by rules that, when operating collectively, are assumed to direct foragers to the most profitable locations with little input from potential recruits, who are presumed to respond...
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Recent evidence suggests that flower‐rich areas within cities could play an important role in pollinator conservation, but direct comparison of floral resources within agricultural and urban areas has proved challenging to perform over large scales. Here we use the waggle dances of honeybees Apis mellifera L. to perform large‐scale landscape survey...
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To the Editor — Access to pesticide-use data is essential to accurately evaluate the adverse effects of pesticides on human and ecosystem health. In Europe, applicators are usually required to record the location and date of pesticide applications1. A subset of these data is periodically sampled to produce heavily aggregated estimates of pesticide...
Preprint
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"Ecological intelligence" hypotheses posit that the benefits of cognitive investment vary with foraging ecology, and provide a key framework for understanding the evolution of animal learning and memory. However, although certain ecological selection pressures have been found to correlate with brain or neural region size, empirical evidence to show...
Preprint
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Major evolutionary transitions describe how biological complexity arises; e.g. in the evolution of complex multicellular bodies, and superorganismal insect societies. Such transitions involve the evolution of division of labour, e.g. as queen and worker castes in insect societies. A key mechanistic hypothesis for the evolution of division of labour...
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Global concern over widely documented declines in pollinators1–3 has led to the identification of anthropogenic stressors that, individually, are detrimental to bee populations4–7. Synergistic interactions between these stressors could substantially amplify the environmental effect of these stressors and could therefore have important implications...
Preprint
Full-text available
Honeybees famously use waggle dances to communicate foraging locations to nestmates in the hive, thereby recruiting them to those sites. The decision to dance is governed by rules that, when operating collectively, are assumed to direct foragers to the most profitable locations with little input from potential recruits, who are presumed to respond...
Preprint
Full-text available
Major evolutionary transitions describe how biological complexity arises; e.g. in evolution of complex multicellular bodies, and superorganismal insect societies. Such transitions involve the evolution of division of labour, e.g. as queen and worker castes in insect societies. Castes across different evolutionary lineages are thought to be regulate...
Article
Sulfoxaflor is a globally important novel insecticide that can have negative impacts on the reproductive output of bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) colonies. However, it remains unclear as to which life-history stage is critically affected by exposure. One hypothesis is that sulfoxaflor exposure early in the colony's life cycle can impair larval devel...
Article
Although social learning capabilities are taxonomically widespread, demonstrating that freely interacting animals (whether wild or captive) rely on social learning has proved remarkably challenging. Network‐based diffusion analysis (NBDA) offers a means for detecting social learning using observational data on freely interacting groups. Its core as...
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Bees are vital pollinators, but are faced with numerous threats that include loss of floral resources and emerging parasites amongst others. Urbanisation is a rapidly expanding driver of land-use change that may interact with these two major threats to bees. Here we investigated effects of urbanisation on food store quality and colony health in hon...
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The honeybee (Apis mellifera) dance communication system is a marvel of collective behaviour, but the added value it brings to colony foraging efficiency is poorly understood. In temperate environments, preventing communication of foraging locations rarely decreases colony food intake, potentially because simultaneous transmission of olfactory info...
Preprint
Recent evidence suggests that flower-rich areas within cities could play an important role in pollinator conservation, but direct comparison of agricultural and urban areas has proved challenging to perform over large scales. Here we use the waggle dances of honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) to evaluate floral resource availability over the entire seas...
Article
Full-text available
Sulfoximine-based insecticides, such as sulfoxaflor, are of increasing global importance and have been registered for use in 81 countries, offering a potential alternative to neonicotinoid insecticides.Previous studies have demonstrated that sulfoxaflor exposure can have a negative impact on the reproductive output of bumblebee colonies, but the sp...
Article
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Systemic insecticides such as neonicotinoids and sulfoximines can be present in the nectar and pollen of treated crops, through which foraging bees can become acutely exposed. Research has shown that acute, field realistic dosages of neonicotinoids can negatively influence bee learning and memory, with potential consequences for bee behaviour. As l...
Article
Honeybees transmit food-related information to nestmates via waggle dances and food-sharing. A new study reveals that learning about food scents can also be mediated by social contact alone, suggesting unexpected complexity in honeybee foraging networks.
Article
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Intensive agriculture currently relies on pesticides to maximize crop yield1,2. Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides globally3, but increasing evidence of negative impacts on important pollinators4-9 and other non-target organisms10 has led to legislative reassessment and created demand for the development of alternative products. S...
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Most insecticides are insect neurotoxins. Evidence is emerging that sublethal doses of these neurotoxins are affecting the learning and memory of both wild and managed bee colonies, exacerbating the negative effects of pesticide exposure and reducing individual foraging efficiency. Variation in methodologies and interpretation of results across stu...
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Urbanization represents a rapidly growing driver of land-use change. While it is clear that urbanization impacts species abundance and diversity, direct effects of urban land use on animal reproductive success are rarely documented. Here, we show that urban land use is linked to long-term colony reproductive output in a key pollinator. We reared co...
Article
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Land‐use change is one of the most important drivers of widespread declines in pollinator populations. Comprehensive quantitative methods for land classification are critical to understanding these effects, but co‐option of existing human‐focussed land classifications is often inappropriate for pollinator research. Here, we present a flexible GIS‐b...
Article
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The social world offers a wealth of opportunities to learn from others, and across the animal kingdom individuals capitalize on those opportunities. Here, we explore the role of natural selection in shaping the processes that underlie social information use, using a suite of experiments on social insects as case studies. We illustrate how an associ...
Article
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Pesticides, including neonicotinoids, typically target pest insects by being neurotoxic. Inadvertent exposure to foraging insect pollinators is usually sub-lethal, but may affect cognition. One cognitive trait, spatial working memory, may be important in avoiding previously-visited flowers and other spatial tasks such as navigation. To test this, w...
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Despite a presumed fitness advantage for individuals with well-developed cognitive abilities, learning performance is usually found to be highly variable within a population. Although little is currently known about the mechanisms responsible for maintaining such variation, there is correlative evidence to suggest that learning performance may be l...
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Alarm signals are widespread in the social insects. It is commonly accepted that such signals produce adaptive short-term aggressive or aversive responses in conspecifics, but the possibility that they could also lead to social learning about predator identity has not yet been addressed. Here we demonstrated that responses to alarm volatiles can le...
Article
In cooperatively breeding vertebrates, the existence of individuals that help to raise the offspring of non-relatives is well established, but unrelated helpers are less well known in the social insects. Eusocial insect groups overwhelmingly consist of close relatives, so populations where unrelated helpers are common are intriguing. Here, we focus...
Article
Social learning is fundamental to social life across the animal kingdom, but we still know little about how natural selection has shaped social learning abilities on a proximate level. Sometimes, complex social learning phenomena can be entirely explained by Pavlovian processes that have little to do with the evolution of sociality. This implies th...
Article
Foraging animals can acquire new information about food sources either individually or socially, but they can also opt to rely on information that they have already acquired, termed “personal information”. Although social information can provide an adaptive shortcut to new resources, recent theory predicts that investing too much time in acquiring...
Article
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Relatedness is predicted to be a key determinant of cooperative behavior, but kin discrimination within social insect colonies is surprisingly rare. A lack of reliable cuticular hydrocarbon (CHC) cues is thought to be responsible, but here we show that in a high-profile paper wasp model, kin recognition cues are available for some individuals that...
Article
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Copying others can greatly improve individual fitness and is fundamental for the organisation of societies. Yet in some situations it is better to ignore social information and either explore the world individually or use personal information obtained through prior experience. Insects provide excellent models to study the strategic use of social in...
Article
Recent debate has questioned whether animal social learning truly deserves the label "social" [1]. Solitary animals can sometimes learn from conspecifics [2, 3], and social learning abilities often correlate with individual learning abilities [4-6], so there may be little reason to view the underlying learning processes as adaptively specialized. H...
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Climate has long been suggested to affect population genetic structures of eusocial insect societies. For instance, Hamilton [Journal of Theoretical Biology 7 (1964) 17] discusses whether temperate and tropical eusocial insects may show differences in population-level genetic structure and viscosity, and how this might relate to differences in the...
Article
Field studies in urban environments have shown that birds sing with higher frequencies in response to noise, but so far there are no perceptual data showing benefits of high-frequency songs over low-frequency songs under typical urban noise conditions. In this study we investigated the potential effects of specific frequency use in different enviro...
Article
Animals that cooperate with nonrelatives represent a challenge to inclusive fitness theory, unless cooperative behavior is shown to provide direct fitness benefits. Inheritance of breeding resources could provide such benefits, but this route to cooperation has been little investigated in the social insects. We show that nest inheritance can explai...
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Bumblebees (Bombus spp.) foraging in the field typically reject flowers where they detect the olfactory footprints of previous visitors and hence avoid recently emptied inflorescences. A growing number of studies have begun to illustrate that associative learning shapes the development of this process, in both bumblebees and other bee species. This...
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A new study argues that social learning is adaptive because 'demonstrators' inadvertently filter information, so that copiers learn behaviours that have proved successful. There are remarkable parallels between these findings and data on how social insects share information about food locations.
Data
Full Sibship Reconstruction procedure. Description of the iterative procedure followed by Kingroup during Full Sibship Reconstruction. (0.29 MB DOC)
Data
Primer sequences. Details of primers used in this study, including three new primer sets. (0.05 MB DOC)
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The paper wasp Polistes dominulus is unique among the social insects in that nearly one-third of co-foundresses are completely unrelated to the dominant individual whose offspring they help to rear and yet reproductive skew is high. These unrelated subordinates stand to gain direct fitness through nest inheritance, raising the question of whether t...
Data
Statistical models. Descriptions of fixed effects and model types for each statistical model. (0.10 MB DOC)
Article
The recent finding that female Drosophila copy the mate-choice criteria of other females introduces a mainstream model species to the study of how animals use social information.
Article
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In 1880, the Victorian naturalist Sir John Lubbock became aware that ants can track their nestmates to rewarding food sources. Lubbock believed that ants were following scent trails, and even went as far as to suggest something approaching a form of chemical language (Lubbock 1882). While he was not so generous about bees-“[Honey] bees do not bring...
Article
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Natural selection should lead animals to use social cues (SC) when they are useful, and disregard them when they are not. Theoretical investigation predicts that individuals should thus employ social learning 'strategies', but how might such context specificity be achieved on a proximate level? Operant conditioning, whereby the use of SC is reinfor...
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Social transmission of acquired foraging techniques is rarely considered outside of a vertebrate context. Here, however, we show that nectar robbing by bumble-bees (Bombus terrestris)-an invertebrate behaviour of considerable ecological significance-has the potential to spread through a population at the accelerated rates typical of social transmis...
Article
Communication and learning from each other are part of the success of insect societies. Here, we review a spectrum of social information usage in insects--from inadvertently provided cues to signals shaped by selection specifically for information transfer. We pinpoint the sensory modalities involved and, in some cases, quantify the adaptive benefi...
Article
Full-text available
Bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) are attracted to those particular inflorescences where other bees are already foraging, a process known as local enhancement. Here, we use a quantitative analysis of learning in a foraging task to illustrate that this attraction can lead bees to learn more quickly which flower species are rewarding if they forage in t...
Article
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Recent research on ants shows that running in tandem might serve the function of teaching naïve ants about the path to a target. Although these new experiments represent perhaps the most highly controlled study of teaching in animals to date, the findings prompt the question of how teaching formally differs from other forms of communication.
Article
Although it has received less coverage than in vertebrates, the study of insect social learning has a rich history with spectacular examples of how individuals extract knowledge from other animals. Several new studies on crickets and social bees have now shown how insects can adjust their behaviour adaptively by making use of cues generated inadver...
Article
The recent finding that in zebra finches, Taeniopygia guttata, some males produce certain high-pitch song syllables during inspiration, a trait requiring unusual motor coordination, raises questions as to a possible role for these unusual sounds in mate attraction. If inspiratory syllables are indicative of a generally higher level of motor control...

Citations

... Recent technological advances have enabled large-scale studies of molecular and behavioral responses to ecological conditions. For instance, the advent of the RNAseq technique has provided insights into how organisms respond to key ecological conditions, including temperature (Smith et al. 2013;Kumar et al. 2020), pesticides (Christen et al. 2018;Colgan et al. 2019), Edited by Roberto Romani social status (Veiner et al. 2022), and diet (Xu et al. 2018). Likewise, the advent of computer visions and automated tracking algorithms has enabled studies that identify key behavioral responses in controlled and natural conditions of individuals and groups (Jover et al. 2009;Weinstein 2018;Shreesha et al. 2020;Lürig et al. 2021), allowing for a deeper understanding of behavioral responses across ecological environments. ...
... Herbicides and fungicides are heavily used around the globe, and have been shown to have negative effects on bee health (e.g., Belsky and Joshi, 2020), as have other ingredients within agrochemical applications (e.g., Straw and Brown, 2021a). Given this, studies of interactions between stressors need to incorporate a more balanced approach, which recognizes the potential importance of other agrochemicals (Straw et al., 2022). This, in turn, requires a knowledge of the extent to which wild bees are exposed to these other agrochemical stressors, as without this, experiments cannot assess real-world hazard or risk (Mesnage et al., 2021;Straw et al., 2022). ...
... The toxic load approach shows the potential risk of acute poisoning instead of actual exposure or fatalities. The use of nationwide sales data provides only a rough estimate of toxicological exposure, and certainly fieldspecific, spatially referenced use data would provide a more accurate risk assessment [150]. Since professional applicators are legally required to keep record of all pesticides used, date of application, area and crops treated, these data could be centrally collected, anonymized, and made openly available to improve transparency and facilitate future research [150]. ...
... When assessing foraging distances of urban dwelling bees, the majority of synthesized research indicated that both urban eusocial and solitary bee species perform largely according to the predictions of central place foraging models and forage close to their nests e.g. (Dietz, 2018;O'Connell et al., 2020;Samuelson, Schürch, & Leadbeater, 2022). For example, Wojcik found support of OFT when studying urban bees in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. ...
... But we have much evidence that features of the environment are reflected in at least short-term memory, and some evidence that this can predict longer term memory. Pull et al. (2021) show that short-term memory predicts foraging efficiency in the field, and that this changes across the summer season, reflecting abundance of floral resources. An earlier study by induced the use of long-term versus short-term memories in bees learning routes by keeping the spatial arrangement of flowers fixed versus changing between foraging trips. ...
... The stingless bee Partamona helleri (Friese), for instance, has a wide distribution in Brazil, pollinating crops and native plants (de Carvalho et al. 1999;Camargo and Pedro 2003;Ramalho 2004). However, these insects may be exposed to pesticides applied in agriculture for pest control during the foraging activity, which threaten bee health at both the individual and colony levels (Sanchez-Bayo and Goka 2014; Chmiel et al. 2020;Siviter et al. 2021). ...
... Currently, little is known on the biochemical reasons for this difference. There are differences in sulfoxaflor's interaction with nAchRs, metabolic enzymes and resistance factors in insects compared to neonicotinoids 63 . However, the research that has been conducted so far has been in pest species such as aphids, fruit flies, whiteflies, leafhoppers and planthoppers 63 . ...
... All models with each type of baseline function were then fit to the association networks described above, where associations between the otters were heterogeneous-henceforth referred to as 'social networks' [71,[75][76][77]. All models with each type of baseline function were also fit to 'group networks', where all association indices between group members were fixed to equal 1, and were therefore homogeneous [76][77][78][79]. This was to ascertain whether newly learned prey interaction and meat extraction behaviours diffused by means of the heterogeneous associations in the otter groups' social networks, or uniformly through the group [76][77][78][79]. ...
... For example, researchers discovered that the prevalence of four common viruses, Deformed Wing virus (DWV), Israeli Acute Paralysis virus (IAPV), Black Queen Cell virus, and Sacbrood virus, varied across species and throughout the season, but did not vary significantly across landscapes, indicating that urban bees are no more susceptible to viruses than bees in rural or agricultural habitats (Olgun, Everhart, Anderson, & Wu-Smart, 2020). Similarly, honeybee colonies in urban areas had fewer parasitic Nosema invasions, greater colony fitness, and higher pollen richness compared to rural residing conspecifics (Samuelson, Gill, & Leadbeater, 2020). Additionally, urban honey bees showed significantly higher within-colony variation for phenoloxidase activity, indicating that urban social bees likely mitigate disease risk by employing colony level differences in immunocompetency (Appler, Frank, & Tarpy, 2015). ...
... A study with the same observation methods and in a similar habitat 20 km away from our field site in [2017][2018] found that the abundance and species richness of large wild bees was negatively affected by increased honeybee hive density on wild pollinators (Ropars et al., 2020b). The social structure of A. mellifera hives (all managed in the region), and their ability to communicate the location of resources, enables workers to exploit the most rewarding floral resources and to track resource availability much more efficiently than wild pollinator species (Hung et al., 2019;Hasenjager et al., 2020). The higher number of visits by A. mellifera to control plots suggests that they evaluated floral resources to be more abundant or of higher quality in control plots. ...