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phone: +32 (0)2 650 44 97

e-mail: Denis.Fournier@ulb.be

Personal website

Denis Fournier on ResearchGate

Follow @denisfournierdf on Twitter

Research interests

Sex and clonality in ants and termites

Making sex is costly: sexual females potentially transmit twice less genes per offspring than asexual females (the «two-fold cost of sex»). On the other hand, asexual lineages are confronted to short- (e.g. accumulation of deleterious mutations, reduced genetic diversity...) and long-term (e.g. evolutionary fate) disadvantages.

In some species of social insects, reproductive females use both sexual and asexual reproductions for the production of reproductive and non-reproductive females. We are interested in the why and how of this unusual strategy.

The evolution of life-history traits in social insects

We investigate how several factors of the breeding system (the number of breeders, their genetic relationships...) affect the colony genetic structure, the reproductive conflicts, the dispersal strategies, the level of inter-nest aggression or the task preferences.

Biological invasions

Biological invasions have major ecological and economical consequences, especially by disrupting trophic cascades and by homogenising biodiversity. Our researches aim at studying biological invasions in social insects and lie on a combinatory approach including genetic, behavioural, chemical and ecological data.


Selected publications

Araujo N, Hellemans S, Roisin Y, Fournier D (2023) Transcriptomic profiling of castes and of sexually and parthenogenetically produced reproductive females in the termite Cavitermes tuberosus. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 171, 350-360.
doi: 10.1111/eea.13285

Fournier D, Aron S (2021) Hybridization and invasiveness in social insects – The good, the bad and the hybrid. Current Opinion in Insect Science 46, 1-9.
doi: 10.1016/j.cois.2020.12.004

Hellemans S, Kaczmarek N, Marynowska M, Calusinska M, Roisin Y, Fournier D (2019) Bacteriome-associated Wolbachia of the parthenogenetic termite Cavitermes tuberosus. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 95, fiy235.
doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiy235

Hellemans S, Dolejšová K, Křivánek J, Fournier D, et al. (2019) Widespread occurrence of asexual reproduction in higher termites of the Termes group (Termitidae: Termitinae). BMC Evolutionary Biology 19, 131.
doi: 10.1186/s12862-019-1459-3

Hellemans S, Fournier D, Hanus R, Roisin Y (2019) Sex ratio variations among years and breeding systems in a facultatively parthenogenetic termite. Insectes sociaux 66, 129-138.
doi: 10.1007/s00040-018-0667-y

Hellemans S, Marynowska M, Drouet T, Lepoint G, Fournier D, et al. (2019) Nest composition, stable isotope ratios and microbiota unravel the feeding behaviour of an inquiline termite. Oecologia 191, 541-553.
doi: 10.1007/s00442-019-04514-w

Wauters N, Dekoninck W, Fournier D (2018) Introduction history and genetic diversity of the invasive ant Solenopsis geminata in the Galápagos Islands. Biological Invasions 20, 3207-3226.
doi: 10.1007/s10530-018-1769-1

Hellemans S, Fournier D, Hanus R, Roisin Y (2017) Secondary queens in the parthenogenetic termite Cavitermes tuberosus develop through a transitional helper stage. Evolution & Development 19, 253-262.
doi: 10.1111/ede.12240

Moerman R, Vanderplanck M, Fournier D, Jacquemart A-L, Michez D (2017) Pollen nutrients better explain bumblebee colony development than pollen diversity. Insect Conservation and Diversity 10, 171-179.
doi: 10.1111/icad.12213

Wauters N, Fournier D, Dekoninck W (2017) Do agricultural zones on Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos, host native and endemic arthropods? Pan-Pacific Entomologist 93, 141-158.
doi: 10.3956/2017-93.2.141

Aron S, Lybaert P, Baudoux C, Vandervelden M, Fournier D (2016) Sperm production characteristics vary with level of sperm competition in Cataglyphis desert ants. Functional Ecology 30, 614-624.
doi: 10.1111/1365-2435.12533

Fournier D, de Biseau J-C, De Laet S, et al. (2016) Social structure and genetic distance mediate nestmate recognition and aggressiveness in the facultative polygynous ant Pheidole pallidula. PLoS ONE 11, e0156440.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0156440

Fournier D, Hellemans S, Hanus R, Roisin Y (2016) Facultative asexual reproduction and genetic diversity of populations in the humivorous termite Cavitermes tuberosus.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 283, 2016.0196.
doi: 10.1098/rspb.2016.0196

Moerman R, Vanderplanck M, Roger N, et al. (2016) Growth rate of bumblebee larvae is related to pollen amino acids. Journal of Economic Entomology 109, 25-30.
doi: 10.1093/jee/tov279

Wauters N, Dekoninck W, Hendrickx F, Herrera HW, Fournier D (2016) Habitat association and coexistence of endemic and introduced ant species in Galápagos Islands. Ecological Entomology 41, 40-50.
doi: 10.1111/een.12256

Fournier D, Hanus R, Roisin Y (2015) Development and characterization of microsatellite markers from the humivorous termite Cavitermes tuberosus (Isoptera: Termitinae) using pyrosequencing technology. Conservation Genetics Resources 7, 521-524.
doi: 10.1007/s12686-014-0411-5

Gérard M, Michez D, Fournier D, et al. (2015) Discrimination of haploid and diploid males of Bombus terrestris (Hymenoptera; Apidae) based on wing shape. Apidologie 46, 644-653.
doi: 10.1007/s13592-015-0352-3

Wauters N, Dekoninck W, Herrera H, Fournier D (2014) Distribution, behavioral dominance and potential impacts on endemic fauna of the tropical fire ant Solenopsis geminata (Hymenoptera: Myrmicinae) in the Galápagos archipelago. Pan-Pacific Entomologist, 90, 205-220.
doi: 10.3956/2014-90.4.205

Fournier D, Tindo M, Kenne M, et al. (2012) Genetic structure, nestmate recognition and behaviour of two cryptic species of the invasive big-headed ant Pheidole megacephala. PLoS ONE 7, e31480.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0031480

Foucaud J, Orivel J, Fournier D, et al. (2009) Reproductive system, social organization, human disturbance and ecological dominance in native populations of the little fire ant, Wasmannia auropunctata. Molecular Ecology 18, 5059-5073.
doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2009.04440.x

Fournier D, Aron S (2009) No-male’s land for an Amazonian ant. Current Biology 19, R738-R740.
doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2009.07.021

Fournier D, de Biseau J-C, Aron S (2009) Genetics, behaviour and chemical recognition of the invading ant Pheidole megacephala. Molecular Ecology 18, 186-199.
doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2008.04018.x

Orivel J, Grangier J, Foucaud J, et al. (2009) Ecologically heterogeneous populations of the invasive ant Wasmannia auropunctata within its native and introduced ranges. Ecological Entomology 34, 504-512.
doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2311.2009.01096.x

Timmermans I, Hefetz A, Fournier D, Aron S (2008) Population genetic structure, worker reproduction and thelytokous parthenogenesis in the desert ant Cataglyphis sabulosa. Heredity 101, 490-498.
doi: 10.1038/hdy.2008.72

Foucaud J, Fournier D, Orivel J, et al. (2007) Sex and clonality in the little fire ant. Molecular Biology and Evolution 24, 2465-2473.
doi: 10.1093/molbev/msm180

de Menten L, Fournier D, Brent CS, et al. (2005) Dual mechanism of queen influence over sex ratio in the ant Pheidole pallidula. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 58, 527-533.
doi: 10.1007/s00265-005-0964-0

Fournier D, Estoup A, Orivel J, et al. (2005) Clonal reproduction by males and females in the little fire ant. Nature 435, 1230-1234.
doi: 10.1038/nature03705

Fournier D, Aron S, Keller L (2004) Significant reproductive skew in the facultatively polygynous ant Pheidole pallidula. Molecular Ecology 13, 203-210.
doi: 10.1046/j.1365-294X.2003.02036.x

Helms KR, Fournier D, Keller L, Passera L, Aron S (2004) Colony sex ratios in the facultatively polygynous ant Pheidole pallidula: a reanalysis with new data. Evolution 58, 1141-1142.
doi: 10.1554/03-648

Fournier D, Keller L, Passera L, Aron S (2003) Colony sex ratios vary with breeding system but not relatedness asymmetry in the facultatively polygynous ant Pheidole pallidula. Evolution 57, 1336-1342.
doi: 10.1111/j.0014-3820.2003.tb00341.x



PhD students

Emilio CAITI

phone: +32 (0)2 650 45 25     e-mail: Emilio.Caiti@ulb.be

  1. An insect pest flies over the English Channel and settles in Great Britain: study of dispersal mechanisms and reproductive strategies in Ips typographus (Coleoptera, Curculionidae, Scolytinae)


phone: +32 (0)2 650 22 67     e-mail: Edouard.Duquesne@ulb.be

  1. Urbanization, termite assemblages and population genetic structure - the case of a pest species in Indonesia


phone: +32 (0)2 650 49 58     e-mail: Nicolas.Fontaine@ulb.be

  1. Distribution, diversity and genetic analyses of the termite species of the Termes genus


phone: +32 (0)2 650 22 67     e-mail: Marion.Steenacker@ulb.be

  1. Linking nesting ecology and genetics with hatchling morphology and fitness for the conservation of green turtles (Chelonia mydas)

MSc students


  1. Diversité génétique et routes d’introduction d’Ips typographus en Europe


  1. Caractérisation des impacts anthropiques sur les pontes de tortues marines en Martinique

Previous MSc and PhD students

Sophie DE LAET

  1. Genetic diversity, intraspecific chemical variations and nestmate recognition in the ant Pheidole pallidula


  1. Social insects and biological invasions


  1. Reversion to monogyny in cooperative foundations of the ant Lasius niger - Effects of queen phenotype and social environment


  1. Evolutionary origin of sexuals and sex-ratio in the termite Cavitermes tuberosus


  1. Modalities of Asexual Queen Succession in the neotropical humivorous termite Cavitermes tuberosus and implications of reproductive organisation on alate sex ratio


  1. From modalities of reproductive strategies in the termite’s group Subulitermes to the origins and evolution of Asexual Queen Succession in Termitidae


  1. The impact of endosymbionts on the reproductive system and sex-ratio of the tropical humivorous termite Cavitermes tuberosus

María Luisa Martín Cerezo

  1. Predicting the invasion risk by the tropical fire ant Solenopsis geminata across the Galápagos Archipelago


  1. Multifactorial analyses of bumblebees decline


  1. The scute pattern variabilities in the green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) at Chagar Hutang sanctuary, Redang Island, Malaysia


  1. Invasive ant species and global warming - risk prediction using geospatial models


  1. Population genetics, chemical recognition and aggressive behaviours of the invasive ant Pheidole megacephala in its native range

Antonin VITAL

  1. Population genetics and reproductive strategies of two termite species of the genus Microcerotermes


  1. Impact of the invasive ant Solenopsis geminata on the endemic fauna of the Galápagos islands - Genetic and ecological context


Bachelier en Sciences biologiques BA-BIOL

. BIOL-F-314   Recherche et communication scientifique

Master en Biologie des organismes et écologie MA-BIOR

. BIOL-F-450   Evolution et écologie - comprendre la diversité phénotypique et génétique

. STAG-F-034   Stage professionnel

ERASMUS   Academic coordinator «INcoming students» (Department «Biology of Organisms»)

. For information concerning intermational exchange programs look at this ULB site

  1. OUTgoing students

  2. INcoming students

  3. Welcome to the Faculty of Sciences

. Erasmus program and details for INcoming (foreign) students (Department «Biology of Organisms»)

  1. Bachelors (1st cycle)

  2. Master (2nd cycle)

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  1. Denis Fournier Group     Genetics, ecology and evolution of social insects

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Biological invasions behaviour Pheidole Ants Genomics Dispersal strategies Solenopsis Native range Colony Molecular analyses Insects Reproductive strategies Nestmate recognition DNA Mating systems Ecology Evolution of sex Reproductive conflicts Population genetics Pest management Transcriptomics Bombus Field Bees Evolutionary ecology Cataglyphis Cavitermes Chemical recognition     Wasmannia Biodiversity Kin composition Sampling Termites Linepithema Global warming Clonality...