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 Thomas O'Shea-Wheller

Thomas O'Shea-Wheller

Research Fellow

 Environment and Sustainability Institute 


Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9FE, UK


I am interested in the complex interactions that govern collective behaviour, ecology, and self-organisation within social insects. My research centres upon the intersection between fundamental investigations of colony functioning, and applied work in ecology and epidemiology. I utilise ants, honey bees, and bumble bees as models to assess trends of ecological and organisational concern, with a focus on the role of interindividual heterogeneity.

Currently, I am involved in projects examining the principle factors leading to honey bee colony losses, the dynamics of parasite-pathogen interactions in determining colony health, the effect of mosquito control compounds upon bumble bee colonies, and the potential for invasive Asian hornets to impact native pollinator populations.

The central aim of my research is to utilise an understanding of the basic rules underpinning complex systems, in order to advance applied research, while informing mechanistic work at a variety of scales. I use social insect colonies as models, as they provide powerful and fascinating tools with which to investigate applied and fundamental questions in biology.

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2017 PhD (University of Bristol) Biology

2013 BSc (University of Exeter) Biosciences


2021-Present Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Exeter

2018-2021 Postdoctoral Researcher-Project Manager, Louisiana State University

Research group links


Research interests

  1. Honey bee epidemiology and ecotoxicology
  2. Bumble bee ecology
  3. Vespa velutina as an invasive species
  4. Collective behaviour in social insects
  5. Tracking and modelling of behavioural heterogeneity 

Research projects

2021-2022 AMCARF: Evaluating the Impacts of Mosquito Control on Bumble Bees

2018-2022 USDA NIFA: A Longitudinal Study of the Principle Factors Leading to Colony Losses in Migratory Beekeeping

2018-2019 LSU AgCenter: Quorum-Sensing by Encounter Rate in Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Swarms

Research grants

  • 2021 American Mosquito Control Association
    Evaluating the Impacts of Mosquito Control on Bumble Bees
  • 2018 Louisiana State University
    Quorum-Sensing by Encounter Rate in Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Swarms


I am interested in teaching courses relating to collective behaviour, ecology and evolution, and pollinator biology. Additionally, I mentor students in project selection and orchestration.

Supervision / Group

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