social behaviour; developmental plasticity; evolutionary ecology; ontogeny; trade-offs; hormones; fish; cichlids; life history; development; behaviour; early environment; socialization; learning, hormones; gene expression; social evolution; cooperative breeding; predation risk; group size; spatial complexity
Fischer Stefan, Zöttl Markus, Groenewoud Frank, Taborsky Barbara (2014), Group-size-dependent punishment of idle subordinates in a cooperative breeder where helpers pay to stay, in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
, 281(1789), 20140184.
Fischer Stefan, Taborsky Barbara, Burlaud Rebecca, Fernandez Ahana Aurora, Hess Sybille, Oberhummer Evelyne, Frommen Joachim G. (2013), Animated images as a tool to study visual communication: A case study in a cooperatively breeding cichlid, in Behaviour
, 151(12-13), 1921-1942.
Stratmann Ariane, Taborsky Barbara (2013), Antipredator defences of young are independently determined by genetic inheritance, maternal effects and own early experience in mouthbrooding cichlids, in Functional Ecology
, 28(4), 944-953.
Taborsky Barbara, Guyer Luzia, Demus P. (2013), 'Prudent habitat choice': A novel mechanism of size-assortative mating, in Journal of Evolutionary Biology
, 27(6), 1217-1228.
Taborsky Barbara, Oliveira Rui Filipe (2013), Social competence vs responsiveness: Similar but not same. A reply to Wolf and McNamara, in Trends in Ecology and Evolution
, 28(5), 254-255.
Taborsky Barbara, Tschirren Linda, Meunier Clémence, Aubin-Horth Nadia (2013), Stable reprogramming of brain transcription profiles by the early social environment in a cooperatively breeding fish., in Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society
, 280(1753), 20122605-20122605.
Fischer Barbara O., Van Doorn Gerrit Sander, Dieckmann Ulf, Taborsky Barbara (2013), The evolution of age-dependent plasticity, in American Naturalist
, 183(1), 108-125.
Sefc KM, Hermann CM, Taborsky B, Koblmuller S (2012), Brood mixing and reduced polyandry in a maternally mouthbrooding cichlid with elevated among-breeder relatedness, in MOLECULAR ECOLOGY
, 21(11), 2805-2815.
Segers FHID, Taborsky B (2012), Competition level determines compensatory growth abilities, in BEHAVIORAL ECOLOGY
, 23(3), 665-671.
Segers FHID, Berishvili G, Taborsky B (2012), Egg size-dependent expression of growth hormone receptor accompanies compensatory growth in fish, in PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
, 279(1728), 592-600.
Segers F H I D, Berishvili G, Taborsky B (2012), Egg size-dependent expression of growth hormone receptor accompanies compensatory growth in fish., in Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society
, 279(1728), 592-600.
Segers FHID, Taborsky B (2012), Juvenile exposure to predator cues induces a larger egg size in fish, in PROCEEDINGS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
, 279(1731), 1241-1248.
Kotrschal A, Heckel G, Bonfils D, Taborsky B (2012), Life-stage specific environments in a cichlid fish: implications for inducible maternal effects, in EVOLUTIONARY ECOLOGY
, 26(1), 123-137.
Taborsky B, Heino M, Dieckmann U (2012), SIZE-DEPENDENT MORTALITY AND COMPETITION INTERACTIVELY SHAPE COMMUNITY DIVERSITY, in EVOLUTION
, 66(11), 3534-3544.
Taborsky Barbara, Heino Mikko, Dieckmann Ulf (2012), Size-dependent mortality and competition interactively shape community diversity., in Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
, 66(11), 3534-44.
Taborsky Barbara, Oliveira Rui F (2012), Social competence: an evolutionary approach., in Trends in ecology & evolution
, 27(12), 679-88.
Taborsky B, Arnold C, Junker J, Tschopp A (2012), The early social environment affects social competence in a cooperative breeder, in ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR
, 83(4), 1067-1074.
Kotrschal A, Fischer B, Taborsky B (2011), A Noninvasive Method to Determine Fat Content in Small Fish Based on Swim Bladder Size Estimation, in JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL ZOOLOGY PART A-ECOLOGICAL GENETICS AND PHYSIOLOGY
, 315A(7), 408-415.
Segers FHID, Gerber B, Taborsky B (2011), Do Maternal Food Deprivation and Offspring Predator Cues Interactively Affect Maternal Effort in Fish?, in ETHOLOGY
, 117(8), 708-721.
Segers FHID, Taborsky B (2011), Egg size and food abundance interactively affect juvenile growth and behaviour, in FUNCTIONAL ECOLOGY
, 25(1), 166-176.
Fischer B, Taborsky B, Kokko H (2011), How to balance the offspring quality-quantity tradeoff when environmental cues are unreliable, in OIKOS
, 120(2), 258-270.
Fischer B, Dieckmann U, Taborsky B (2011), WHEN TO STORE ENERGY IN A STOCHASTIC ENVIRONMENT, in EVOLUTION
, 65(5), 1221-1232.
Arnold Cornelia, Taborsky Barbara (2010), Social experience in early ontogeny has lasting effects on social skills in cooperatively breeding cichlids, in Animal Behaviour
, 79(3), 621-630.
There is increasing awareness that a comprehensive understanding of form and function in biology needs an integrative approach combining research on ecological and evolutionary roots of phenotype formation with the study of developmental and genetic mechanisms. This project aims to study developmental plasticity of social behaviour pursuing three major aims: (i) to identify phenotypic effects of early environment on social behaviour and their fitness benefits and associated trade-offs in the ecological context; (ii) to expand the study of the evolutionary ecology of social plasticity with research on underlying molecular and endocrine mechanisms.; and (iii) to investigate how animals integrate multiple environmental input by means of a plastic response. To pursue these aims I shall combine laboratory and field experiments, ecological surveys and evolutionary modelling with the study of the ontogeny of gene expression and the organization of hormonal axes. My study organism will be the highly social cichlid Neolamprologus pulcher, which has turned into a model system for studies of social evolution at many different levels, including population genetics, ecology, life history evolution, behaviour, morphology, gene expression, hormone physiology and energetics. These fish form complex social networks where all aspects of life involve social interactions at various levels. Together with a solid knowledge base of the biology of this species and its outstanding methodological suitability, this model system provides exceptional opportunities to investigate the fitness related aspects of social development that are the objective of this study. Three major approaches will be used to achieve the aims outlined above. (1) Young N. pulcher will be experimentally exposed to different levels of social and spatial complexity and varying levels of predation risk during early ontogeny. I shall investigate resulting phenotypic responses, in particular predicted trade-offs between social competence, learning ability and memory capacity, and risk avoidance skills at different stages throughout life. Moreover, I shall apply behavioural essays and measure fitness in terms of survival chances, reproductive performance and dispersal success. In the field, lifetime fitness of individually marked fish will be compared between individuals from social groups of low and high complexity (small and large families). (2) To unravel the physiological mechanisms responsible for effects of the early environment on social behaviour and the involved trade-offs we shall study gene expression during the course of plastic development (collaboration with N. Aubin-Horth, Quebec Univ.). We shall take serial samples of young from the treatment groups created by environmental manipulations as outlined in (1). By time series sampling during early life stages we shall be able to distinguish causes from effects of behavioural variation. Sampling later in life allows to check for the long-term persistence of gene expression differences. We shall measure circulating cortisol levels, determine the expression levels of corticoid receptors in whole brains by qRTPCR and compare expression levels between treatment groups in different brain regions by in situ hybridization. One of the most important epigenetic mechanisms during development is methylation or demethylation of DNA as it can silence or activate genes, respectively. As this mechanism may cause persistent, plastic changes in social behaviour, we aim to detect differential methylation patterns in the brain in response to early social environment. (3) To investigate the integration of multiple environmental cues young N. pulcher will receive information on the safety of the environment either (a) by maternal signals through yolk corticosteroid levels, or (b) from their own, post-natal experience. By the experimental treatment these cues will be either congruent or conflicting. I shall test for synergistic and antagonistic effects of the two cues, and whether young prioritize maternal signals or information accrued by own sampling. Individual-based simulations will be employed to find simple decision rules that can be used by animals to solve a complex problem: to show an optimal degree of plasticity of traits in fluctuating environments across all ages.