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

Social evolution: merits and limitations of inclusive fitness theory

Workshop, 12-15 July 2014, Arolla, Switzerland

Organizers: Michael Taborsky and Joachim Frommen, Universitiy of Bern

This is a workshop of the CUSO Doctoral Program in Ecology and Evolution (DPEE) and the SNF ProDoc program “Proximate and Ultimate causes of Cooperation

Workshop topic

Inclusive fitness theory is generally assumed to sufficiently explain the evolution of social behaviour. However, empirical evidence is accumulating that other evolutionary concepts need to be involved to explain cooperation and social structure in a wide range of taxa. This includes the archetypical examples of altruism, like the reproductive division of labour in eusocial hymenoptera and the cooperative breeding groups observed in many vertebrates. Recent evidence from insects and vertebrates reveals that high levels of relatedness can even reduce rather than further cooperation and altruism.

The aim of this workshop is to combine pertinent evolutionary theoreticians and empiricists to discuss complementary evolutionary mechanisms to inclusive fitness theory. This is a topic of great interest to students and biologists in general, because there is a growing awareness that explanations based on inclusive fitness, which have dominated the theoretical and empirical literature for the past half century, cannot account for many examples of apparently altruistic behaviour observed in nature.

Workshop program

General schedule:  July 12: arrival day; July 13 and 14: Scientific program; July 15: excursion to the mountains

The program of the workshop consists of a combination of plenary talks by the invited speakers and work performed in small groups, in which the participants will discuss a theme together with one of the invited speakers. The results of these small-group sessions will be presented to the other participants, followed by a plenary 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: As can be seen from this website, 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 (Sunday, August 11, 2013) buses leave Sion at 8:00, 8:40, 12:50 and 17:10. On all other days buses from Sion go at 8:40, 10:35, 12:50, 14:10, 16:10, 17:10. You will find the schedules of all trains and buses within Switzerland at the SBB website [link to http://www.sbb.ch]


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 participants and reimbursement

There is generally no registration fee. Only PhD students registered at the CUSO Doctoral Program in Ecology and Evolution (DPEE), researchers/teachers 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'

Expected Costs for Participants of non-CUSO Universities

Costs for participants from universities that are not member of the CUSO include travel costs and lodging at the Kurhaus. Participants can choose between different lodging options in the hotel. All prices include full board (i.e., all meals and coffee breaks, and wine and water during dinner), and they are calculated per night and per person. (1Euro= approx. 1.20 CHF)
Others will pay the costs of their room and board, approximately CHF 105 per night in a shared double room (CHF 405 in total).


Online registration only

  • Please click on the icon "Registration" 
  • CUSO PhD students register through their MyCUSO account
  • External participants (non-CUSO PhD students, post-docs, etc...) register through the "non-CUSO student" account

Deadline for registration: 01 June 2014


For more information, contact Michael Taborsky (michael.taborsky@iee.unibe.ch) or Joachim Frommen (Joachim.frommen@iee.unibe.ch)