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Behaving genes

Some insects form complex social groups, and the behaviours underlying these social groups are influenced both by the species' genetics and the environment that they live in.

Together with Seirian Sumner at University College London, we are developing an open source game for exhibition and online use that will allow people to build their own wasp society, toying with the limits of biology.

The player will be able to take on the persona of three different wasp species, making life choices about where to build a nest, whether to build it alone or with others, and how to allocate brood to different jobs. When environmental catastrophes hit, the resilience of the resulting social structure will be put to test.

This project is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, and runs from 2018-2019.