Head of Division
Prof. Dr. Michael Taborsky

Institut für Ökologie und Evolution
Telefon: +41 31 631 91 11
Telefax: +41 31 631 91 41
E-Mail:   claudia.leiser@iee.unibe.ch

Ethologische Station Hasli
Wohlenstrasse 50a
CH-3032 Hinterkappelen

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Universität Bern


SCIENCE ADVANCES Alternative male morphs solve sperm performance/longevity trade-off in opposite directions M. Taborsky, D. Schütz, O. Goffinet & G.S.van Doorn


Media release, University of Bern


Reciprocal trading of different commodities in Norway rats. M.K. Schweinfurth & M. Taborsky

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Nature research highlight
Current Biology dispatch

PNAS - Divergence of developmental trajectories is triggered interactively by early social and ecological experience in a cooperative breeder. Fischer, Bohn, Oberhummer, Nyman & B. Taborsky
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commentary on Fischer et al

PNAS - Predation risk drives social complexity in cooperative breeders. Groenewoud, Frommen, Josi, Tanaka, Jungwirth & Taborsky
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The evolution of cooperation based on direct fitness benefits. Phil Trans theme issue compiled and edited by Taborsky M., Frommen JG & Riehl C. (2016)
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NATURE COMMUNICATIONS Kinship reduces alloparental care in cooperative cichlids where helpers pay-to-stay
Zoettl M., Heg D., Chervet N. & Taborsky M. (2013)

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Social competence: an evolutionary approach
Taborsky, B. & Oliveira, R.F.
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Larval helpers and age polyethism in ambrosia beetles
Biedermann P.H.W. & Taborsky M.
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Animal personality due to social niche specialisation
Bergmueller R. & Taborsky M.
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Environmental Change Enhances Cognitive Abilities in Fish
Kotrschal, A. & Taborsky, B.
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Extended phenotypes as signals
Franziska C. Schaedelin and Michael Taborsky
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On the Origin of Species by Natural and Sexual Selection
G. Sander van Doorn, Pim Edelaar, Franz J. Weissing
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Cambridge University Press
Alternative Reproductive Tactics: An Integrative

Oliveira R., Taborsky M. & Brockmann H.J.
more information

Negotiation and Trading in Nature

Workshop, 16-19 July


Organizers: Michael Taborsky, Sacha Engelhardt, Joachim Frommen and Barbara Taborsky

Workshop topic

Cooperation is widespread in nature, and often partners in cooperative interactions are not related - they may even belong to different species. Recent theoretical and empirical evidence suggests that animals and other organisms are frequently trading same or different commodities among one another. This process typically involves some sort of negotiation, which may promote cooperation when individuals make decisions based on reciprocal service. The evolution of trade-based cooperation cannot be fully explained by mutual benefits, since individuals can reject a particular exchange if future returns are uncertain or if there are better alternative options. This 3-day workshop will search for optimal approaches towards unravelling the behavioural and evolutionary mechanisms underlying negotiation and trading among social partners.  Eminent evolutionary and behavioural ecologists, theoreticians, anthropologists and psychologists will give keynote presentations and guide the discussions among students and other workshop participants in order to develop a multidisciplinary framework for the study of negotiation and trading.


Gfrerer, N. and Taborsky, M. (2018) Working dogs transfer different tasks in reciprocal cooperation. Biology Letters 14 (2) [ pdf ]

Hammerstein, P., & Noë, R. (2016). Biological trade and markets. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371, 20150101. [pdf available from the author]

Ito, K., McNamara, J. M., Yamauchi, A., & Higginson, A. D. (2016). The evolution of cooperation by negotiation in a noisy world. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 30, 603–615.

Quiñones, A.E., van Doorn, S., Pen, I., Weissing, F.J., Taborsky, M. (2016) Negotiation and appeasement can be more effective drivers of sociality than kin selection. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. B, 371: 20150089. [pdf].

Schweinfurth, M. K., & Taborsky, M. (2018). Reciprocal Trading of Different Commodities in Norway Rats. Current Biology, 28, 594–599. [ pdf ]

Taborsky, M., Frommen, J. G., & Riehl, C. (2016). Correlated pay-offs are key to cooperation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 371, 20150084. [pdf].

Workshop program

General schedule: July 16 - Arrival day; July 17 & 18 - Scientific program; July 19 - Excursion to the mountains and departure

The program of the workshop will consist of a combination of plenary talks by invited speakers and work performed in small groups, in which the participants will discuss a particular theme together with one of the invited speakers. The results of these small-group sessions will be presented to the plenum by student participants, followed by a general discussion.


Location and Venue

The symposium will be held in the Grand-Hôtel 'Kurhaus' in a breath-taking scenery amidst some of the finest mountain peaks of Switzerland. The venue is situated above the picturesque mountain village of Arolla, at 2100 m sea level at the core of the High Alps of the Valais. Enjoy the 360° mountain view panorama to be seen from the hotel (just with much less snow in summer!)


Access to Arolla and the Kurhaus: The nearest railway station to Arolla is Sion. From Sion, a bus ("Postauto") goes to Arolla, with one exchange of buses at Les Hauderes (travel time by bus is 1:15 h). On the arrival day and during weekdays, buses leave Sion at 6:57, 8:40, 10:40, 12:50, 14:10, 16:10, and 17:10. On weekdays buses go back to Sion at 8:25, 10:00, 12:10, 15:00, 16:25, and 17:26. You will find the schedules of all trains and buses within Switzerland at the SBB website


1 - 2 ECTS can be obtained, depending on the contribution of the participant. The evaluation will be based on your active participation in discussions and group presentations during the symposium.

Costs for DPEE-participants and reimbursement

Only PhD students registered at the CUSO Doctoral Program in Ecology and Evolution (DPEE), speakers and people organizing the workshop are eligible for reimbursement of incurred travel expense by train (2nd class, half-fare ticket), accomodation and meals. Please see 'Instructions for reimbursement'

Participation of other participants

Please contact Sacha Engelhardt (sacha.engelhardt[at]iee.unibe.ch).


For more information, please contact Michael Taborsky (michael.taborsky[at]iee.unibe.ch), Sacha Engelhardt (sacha.engelhardt[at]iee.unibe.ch), or Marta Bellone (ecologie-evolution@cuso.ch)


Check out the picture gallery of previous workshops here.