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Evolutionary mechanisms of cooperation and competition: an integrative approach

English title Evolutionary mechanisms of cooperation and competition: an integrative approach
Applicant Taborsky Michael
Number 118464
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Ethologische Station Hasli Institut für Ökologie und Evolution Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Ecology
Start/End 01.01.2008 - 31.12.2008
Approved amount 141'667.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Ecology
Zoology

Keywords (6)

cooperation; altruism; generalized reciprocity; cooperative breeding; Lake Tanganyika; cichlids

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
We investigate evolutionary mechanisms of cooperation and competition. By using an integrative approach, we aim to understand these prime components of sociality at ultimate and proximate levels. We employ theoretical and empirical means towards this end, combining analytical and simulation approaches, experimental and observa¬tional methods, and empirical research in the field and under controlled laboratory condi¬tions. Our model system is Lake Tanganyika cichlids that exhibit one of the most complex social organizations known among vertebrates. We hypothesize that ecological factors and conditions intrinsic to a species’ biology shape the social interactions and degree of agonistic and cooperative behaviour, including altruism, which has important effects on the evolution of social systems. Obtaining long-term fitness measures will help us to understand the importance of habitat for the evolution of social systems. Further, we hypothesize that previous social experience shapes the behaviour of individuals in future interactions, irrespective of the identity of social part¬ners. We attempt to unravel evolutionary and physiological processes responsible for such social feedback mechanisms. Overall, we aim to move towards developing a comprehensive framework of coop¬eration and advanced social organization.Further information can be found at:http://behav.zoology.unibe.ch/index.php?p=esh_main
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
122511 Evolutionary mechanisms of cooperation and competition: an integrative approach 01.01.2009 Project funding
105626 The influence of ecology on the evolution of reproductive life histories and sociality 01.01.2005 Project funding

Abstract

Evolutionary mechanisms of cooperation and competition: an integrative approach1. SummaryOur research focuses on evolutionary mechanisms of cooperation and competition. By using an integrative approach, we aim to understand these prime components of sociality at ultimate and proximate levels. We employ theoretical and empirical means towards this end, combining analytical and simulation approaches, experimental and observational methods, and empirical research in the field and under controlled laboratory conditions. Our model systems include (1) Lake Tanganyika cichlids exhibiting one of the most complex social organizations known among vertebrates, (2) ambrosia beetles which cultivate fungi and are on the brink of eusociality, and (3) Norway rats that show different levels of reciprocity - mechanisms the importance of which is highly underrated in animal behaviour research. We hypothesize that previous social experience shapes the behaviour of individuals in future interactions, irrespective of the identity of social part¬ners. We shall continue previous attempts of our group to unravel evolutionary and physiological processes responsible for such social feedback mechanisms. We shall extend our study of evolutionary stability of generalized reciprocity by analytical and individual based modelling techniques, and test for the influence of a variation of costs on the propensity to cooperate when no direct reward is provided. In addition, we aim to study hormonal mechanisms involved in the regulation of effects caused by social experience. Furthermore, we hypothesize that ecological factors and conditions intrinsic to a species’ biology shape the social interactions and degree of agonistic and cooperative behaviour, including altruism, which has important effects on the evolution of social systems. In this context, we shall study the importance of substrate used for breeding (cichlids, ambrosia beetles) and food (ambrosia beetles), and the significance of individual differences to cope with the environment and to learn (rats). Obtaining long-term fitness measures will help us to understand the importance of habitat for the evolution of social systems (cichlids). In the long run we aim to move towards developing a comprehensive framework of cooperation and advanced social organization, and this project will greatly help us to proceed in this direction.
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