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


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

Symposium on "The Theory of Cooperation"

11-13 August 2011, Adelboden/Switzerland

Organizers: Sander van Doorn, Michael Taborsky

This is a workshop of the Inter-University Doctoral Program in Ecology and Evolution



Prof. Dr. Athena Aktipis, University of Arizona, USA

Prof. Dr. Zoltan Barta, University of Debrecen, Hungary

Prof. Dr. Tim Clutton-Brock, University of Cambridge, UK

Prof. Dr. Michael Doebeli, University of British Columbia, Canada

Prof. Dr. Jeff Fletcher, Portland State University, USA

Dr. Sander van Doorn, University of Bern, Switzerland

Dr. James Marshall, University of Sheffield, UK

Dr. Marco Archetti, University of Basel, Switzerland

Workshop topic

Cooperation in the sense of altruistic behaviour, i.e., with beneficial effects to recipients at immediate costs to the donor, is mainly explained by two evolutionary concepts: kin selection and reciprocity. Recent theoretical models have shown, however, that despite apparent radical differences, these concepts are based on closely related mechanisms. The probability to gain future benefits from a helpful act depends on non-random population structure. Assortment between individuals exhibiting different behaviours in a population is thought to be the major mechanism generating evolutionarily stable levels of cooperation. Population viscosity either generates kin structure by common descent or non-random interactions by correlations between individuals in time and space. The aim of this workshop is to discuss the underlying processes generating evolutionarily stable cooperation by kin selection and reciprocity, and in particular, to unravel the commonality and distinction of these mechanisms.
In the workshop, plenary talks of invited speakers will be combined with work performed in groups in which participants will deal with a particular theme together with invited speakers. The results of these group efforts will be presented in a plenary session where all participants can participate in the discussion of ensuing conclusions.

Location and Venue

The symposium will be held in Adelboden, a picturesque mountain village at 1400 m sea level amidst the High Alps of the Berner Oberland.

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Access to Adelboden. As can be seen from this website, the nearest railway station to Adelboden is Frutigen. From Frutigen, a bus goes to Adelboden at least every hour (xx:31h), and more frequently during the early morning and late afternoon. The trip takes 34 min. You will find the schedules of all trains and busses within Switzerland at the SBB website.

The venue for this workshop is
Hotel Crea
Ausserschwandstrasse 2
CH-3715 Adelboden Switzerland

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1 - 2 ECTS can be obtained, depending on the contribution of the participant. If you need a certificate (Zeugnis) for this symposium, please bring a certificate form from your University, fill in your details and hand it over to us during the meeting. 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. PhD students registered at the CUSO Inter-University Doctoral Program in Ecology and Evolution, researchers/teachers and people organizing the activities can apply for reimbursement of travel and participation/accommodation costs (affiliated institutions: Universities of Bern, Fribourg, Geneva, Lausanne, Neuchâtel). 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 Hotel Crea. Participants can choose between different lodging options in the Hotel. All prices include full board (i.e., all meals and coffee breaks - and the use of the swimming pool), and they are calculated per night and per person. (1Euro= approx. 1.25 CHF)

- Dormitory bed (space for up to 15 persons available in dormitory): 78,- CHF
- Bed in a shared twin room without private bathroom: 90,- CHF
- Bed in a shared twin or double room with private bathroom/TV: 120,- CHF
- Single room without private bathroom/TV: 105,- CHF
- Single room with private bathroom/TV: 135,- CHF


We still have places available for participants. Applications will be considered until the maximum capacity of the workshop is reached.

To register, please complete the registration form and send it to us per e-mail at: michael.taborsky [at] iee.unibe.ch

For more information, contact:   
michael.taborsky [at] iee.unibe.ch  or                   
sander.vandoorn [at] iee.unibe.ch

Symposium on "The use of vertebrate model systems to study social evolution"

15-18 August 2009, Adelboden/Switzerland

This is a symposium of the Inter-University Doctoral Program in Ecology and Evolution

Invited speakers:

Prof. Tim Clutton-Brock, University of Cambridge, UK: "Structure and Function in Mammal Societies".
Dr. Dik Heg, University of Bern, Switzerland: "The Use of a Cichlid Fish Model to Study Social Evolution".
Prof. Marta Manser, University of Zurich, Switzerland: "Coordination and communication in meerkats".
Prof. Jan Komdeur, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Netherlands: " The use of long-term prdigree data to understand the dynamics of adult traits in wild populations".
Dr. David S. Richardson, University of East Anglia, UK: "Altruism, infidelity and grandparents; cooperative breeding in the Seychelles".
Dr. Kelly Stiver, Yale University, USA: "How relatedness informs and influences behaviour of Neolamprologus pulcher in the wild"

To understand the evolution of complex social organization (including structured groups, cooperation between group members, task sharing, individualized relationships, divergent social roles) we need suitable model systems that (1) dispose of the required complexity of social organization, (2) allow to observe and measure relevant traits and their fitness effects in the field, and (3) enable performance of crucial experiments to unravel underlying ultimate and proximate mechanisms of advanced sociality. Among vertebrates, there are a few model systems that fulfil these criteria, like meerkats, Seychelles warblers and Lake Tanganyika cichlids. The aim of this symposium is to provide state-of-the-art insight into the mechanisms underlying advanced social behaviour by bringing together experts studying respective model systems in mammals, birds and fishes.

Invited speakers and other participants who wish to contribute to the theme of the symposium will present relevant results and overviews of the(ir) research on the respective model systems. In the discussion, we shall emphasize the involved ultimate and proximate mechanisms and attempt to compare them between different vertebrate taxa to understand the importance of intrinsic differences in their biology. We shall further discuss the pros and cons of the respective model systems to unravel general principles of social evolution. We expect that at the end of this symposium the participants will dispose of a good understanding of some of the most complex and best studied model systems of social evolution.