Ecology and Social Organisation of Wasps

Emily Bell, Seirian Sumner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review


Understanding sociality is a general question in biology: it tells us how groups evolve and function, from cells to insect societies. The social wasps (Hymenoptera, Vespidae) display a wide range of diversity in their ecology and social organisation, providing insights into the origins of simple societies and the elaboration and maintenance of complex societies. Social wasps play an important role in our ecosystems and economies, e.g. through their pollination and pest control services. Compared with other social insects (e.g. ants, termites and bees), the social wasps are understudied. Here we give a brief overview of the social wasps, their phylogenetic history, diversity in social organisation, and explain how they offer important insights in the key innovations underpinning the evolution of sociality.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEncyclopaedia of Life Sciences
Early online date15 Mar 2013
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2013


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