Professor Elva Robinson is an ecologist at the University of York and an expert on ants. Elva uses ants as a model system to explore the rules governing animal social behaviour and their interactions with the environment.
One of the species she studies is the Northern Hairy Wood Ant which will be familiar to most people who take walks in Hardcastle Crags. A curious aspect of this species is that it is “polydomous”: a single colony may consist of several inter-connected anthills, and there can be several queens. Understanding the social structure of ants is essential for conservation and to appreciate how ants might respond to changing environmental conditions, especially climate change.