Dr Lymbery’s research will use evolutionary theory to devise innovative new approaches to the management of invasive ants. Invasive ants are one of the most destructive groups of pest organisms, dominating native ecosystems, reducing agricultural productivity, damaging infrastructure and costing affected countries billions of dollars per year. Current management techniques rely on broad-scale pesticide application, but this can have disastrous side-effects for native ecosystems. The aim of Samuel’s project will be to use our well-established knowledge of behavioural ecology to disrupt the social structure of invasive ants with targeted biochemicals and pheromones. This will provide a cost-effective and ecologically friendly approach to the control of these catastrophic pest species.
To conduct this work, Samuel will join Raphael Didham’s Insect Ecology team at UWA, and work with Dr Bruce Webber at CSIRO’s Ecosystem Change Ecology Team to ensure our research has relevant on-the-ground applications. At UWA Samuel will also collaborate with the Centre for Evolutionary Biology, the national leader in evolutionary expertise.
Samuel completed his PhD with Prof Leigh Simmons and Assoc Prof Joseph Tomkins at UWA, working on the social evolution of sexual conflict. He then took up a postdoctoral position at the University of Exeter in the UK with Prof David Hosken and Prof Nina Wedell, where he worked on social effects on female mate choice and alternative reproductive tactics.