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

The costs and benefits of information acquisition and use in social interactions

Workshop, 6-9 July 2015, Arolla, Switzerland

Organizers: Michael Taborsky and Leif Engqvist, 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

Adaptive decision making depends on the quality of available information. The significance of direct and indirect information involved in social decisions is little understood. Evidence for constraints and substantial costs in the acquisition and processing of information is accumulating. Accordingly, behavioural decisions often seem to be made with imperfect knowledge, following “rules of thumb” rather than applying prudent assessment to make optimal choices. Furthermore, individuals may or may not benefit from sharing information; hence, they may transmit only partial or false information.

The aim of this workshop is to discuss these issues in an evolutionary framework, both from an empirical and theoretical perspective. Questions discussed in this workshop will include, for instance, how different costs of information acquisition and use will change predictions on adaptive decision making; and, whether seemingly irrational or “wrong” decisions may actually make sense when taking costs and constraints on information use into account. These topics are of great interest to researchers from different disciplines, including behavioural ecology, neurobiology, cognitive sci­ences, and psychology. Interaction between different fields will identify open questions and directions for future interdisciplinary research.

Workshop program

General schedule: July 6: arrival day; July 7 and 8: scientific program; July 9: excursion to the mountains

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 (Monday, July 6, 2015) and during weekdays, buses leave Sion at 7:00, 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

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 other participants

Workshop expenses for PhD-students from universities that are not member of the CUSO will be 400 CHF and 450 CHF for all other participants. All prices include full board (i.e., all meals and coffee breaks, and wine and water during dinner) in a shared double room.


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 2015


For more information, please contact Michael Taborsky (michael.taborsky@iee.unibe.ch), Leif Engqvist (leif.engqvist@iee.unibe.ch), or Caroline Betto-Colliard (ecologie-evolution@cuso.ch)


Check out the picture gallery of this worksho here.