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

Behavioural and hormonal correlates of cooperation in female Norway rats

  • Sacha Engelhardt


  • Niklas Paulsson 

 Master students:

  • Kaya Kettler
Project leader:

Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus) are social animals that live in large colonies of both related and unrelated individuals. Especially females show complex social behaviour, including allogrooming, communal nursing, as well as food hoarding and sharing. Using a manual food-exchange task, we previously showed that female rats differ in their propensity to cooperate according to previous social experiences. Particularly, they provide help to a partner from which they have received help before (direct reciprocity) and are in general more cooperative to any individual after experiencing help by a conspecific (generalised reciprocity).
Currently, we investigate different modalities of reciprocal cooperation, as well as their connectivity with behavioural syndromes ("personality"), hormon levels (oxytocin, dopamin) and genetic background. For our projects, we house 160 male and female wild-type Norway rats in groups of same-sex sibling with which we test different forms of reciprocity and investigating their potental proximate and ultimate mechanisms.


Schweinfurth MK, Taborsky M. (2018) Norway rats ( Rattus norvegicus ) communicate need elicits donation of food J. Comp. Psychol. [ Pdf ] [ Featured article of the month ]

Schweinfurth MK & Taborsky M. (2018) Relatedness decreases and reciprocity increases cooperation in Norway councils. Proc. R. Soc. B 285: 20180035 [ pdf ]

Schweinfurth, MK & Taborsky, M., (2018) Reciprocal trading of different commodities in Norway. Current Biology [ pdf ]

Schweinfurth, MK, Taborsky, M. (2017): The transfer of alternative tasks in reciprocal cooperation. Anim. Behav. 131: 35-41 [ pdf ]

Schweinfurth, MK, Stieger, B. Taborsky, M. (2017): Experimental evidence for reciprocity in allogrooming among wild-type Norway rats. Scientific Reports 7: 4010 [ pdf ]

Schweinfurth, MK, Neuenschwander, J., Engqvist, L., Schneeberger, K., Rentsch, AK, Gygax, M., Taborsky, M. (2017): Do female Norway rats form social bonds? Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 71:98 [ pdf ]

Dolivo, V., Taborsky, M. (2017): Environmental enrichment of young adult rats ( Rattus norvegicus ) in different sensory modalities has long-lasting effects on their ability to learn via specific sensory channels J. Comp. Psychol DOI: 10.1037 / com0000063 [ pdf ]

Schweinfurth, M. and Taborsky, M. (2016): No evidence for audience effects in reciprocal cooperation of Norway rats Ethology 122: 513–521 [pdf]

Dolivo, V., Rutte, C., Taborsky, M. (2016): Ultimate and proximate mechanisms of reciprocal altruism in rats. Learn. Behav. [pdf]

Dolivo, V. & Taborsky, M. (2015): Cooperation among Norway rats: The importance of visual cues for reciprocal cooperation, and the role of coercion. Ethology 121: 1-20. [pdf

Dolivo, V. & Taborsky, M. (2015): Norway rats reciprocate help according to the quality of help they received. Biol. Lett. 11:20140959 [pdf

Schneeberger K., Dietz M. & Taborsky M. (2012): Reciprocal cooperation between unrelated rats depends on cost to donor and benefit to recipient. BMC Evol. Biol. 12:41 [pdf]

Lehner S.R., Rutte C. & Taborsky M. (2011): Rats benefit from winner and loser effects. Ethology 117: 1-12. [pdf, 205 KB]

Rutte C. & Taborsky M. (2008): The influence of social experience on cooperative behaviour of rats (Rattus norvegicus): direct vs generalised reciprocity. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 62:499–505 [pdf]

Rutte C. & Taborsky M. (2007): Generalized reciprocity in rats. PLoS Biol. 5:1421-1425 [pdf]