Elva Joan Hilda Robinson

Contact details

Type of addressPostal address
Postal codeYO10 5DD
CountryUnited Kingdom
Address lines
  • Biology
    University of York
    Wentworth Way
    YO10 5DD

Phone: (01904) 325338

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Dr. Elva Joan Hilda Robinson

Senior Lecturer

Research interests

Social structure in animal groups affects how robust a population is to stresses such as disease, disturbance by humans, or habitat fragmentation. Effects of environmental change on animal social structure are challenging to study but have wide reaching implications for conservation and management. I use ants as a model system which can be manipulated at both the individual and group levels, allowing thorough exploration of the rules governing social behaviour and interaction with the environment. Understanding social structure is essential to for the conservation of any social species, and is also essential for successful control of those social species which have become invasive pests. I use a range of ant species for my research, including the ecologically dominant Formica rufa group wood ants and the invasive garden ant, Lasius neglectus.

I combine controlled lab experiments, field experiments in a more natural context, and computational/analytical modelling, to investigate the organisation of social behaviours and how these relate to environmental conditions and change. I used radio-frequency identification technology to gain individual-level insights into the roles of certain ants within a colony. I collaborate on the analysis of complex patterns of behaviour with other members of the York Centre for Complex Systems Analysis (YCCSA). This work will help explain the mechanisms of organisation and resilience to change in a highly successful group of insects, which will provide insights into the workings of other animal social systems, and even into man-made network systems.