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Tiny Brains with Big Effects: the World of Ants and Bees

Tiny Brains with Big Effects: the World of Ants, Bees and Wasps
Wellingtonians will have the chance to delve into the world of insects during Professor Phil Lester’s inaugural professorial lecture at Victoria University on Tuesday 7 May.
Professor Lester will explore the behaviour of social insects such as ants, bees and wasps, discussing the vital pollinating role they play in our food production, as well as the damage they can cause to entire ecosystems.
He will demonstrate some of the incredible behaviours insects have adopted in order to survive in different situations. For example, scientists have recently discovered a new behaviour in the common wasp when it is competing for food with native ants. Picking their opponents up in their mandibles (or jaws), wasps have been seen to fly backwards and drop ants away from the disputed food resource, dealing efficiently with their competitors.
Professor Lester will also explain how successful insect populations can occasionally collapse and disappear, and discuss why now, more than ever, we need to manage social insects for conservation and biodiversity benefits.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Pat Walsh says Victoria University’s inaugural lecture series is an opportunity for professors to share insights into their specialist areas of study with family, friends, colleagues and the local community.
“Inaugural lectures are also an excellent way for the University to celebrate and acknowledge our valued professors,” says Professor Walsh.
Professor Phil Lester is based in the School of Biological Sciences at Victoria University. He is an authority on invasive insect species and is recognised as one of New Zealand’s leading insect experts.
He has previously received a Marsden Fund grant and Fulbright Senior Scholar Award to support his research, and received a Victoria University Research Excellence Award in 2009.
Last year, Professor Lester served as President of the Entomological Society of New Zealand and was also named as the 2012 recipient of the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Charles Fleming Fund, which supports senior scientists to carry out research. 
Inaugural lecture–Professor Phil Lester
‘Tiny brains with big effects: the ecologically dominant but fragile world of ants, bees and wasps’
Tuesday 7 May 2013, 6pm
Hunter Council Chamber, Level 2, Hunter Building, Gate 1 or 2, Kelburn Parade, Wellington.
RSVP by Friday 3 May. Phone 04-472 1000 or email with ‘Lester’ in the subject line.
Click on this link to view a video of wasps picking up and dropping ants:


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