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

Valentina Balzarini


Email: valentina.balzarini@iee.unibe.ch

Phone: +41 (0)31 631 9161

Research Interests

My PhD project is about the relationship between individual behavioural differences and the social environment in Neolamprologus pulcher.

This species is a cooperatively breeding fish that lives in stable groups of related and unrelated individulas. Dominant individuals monopolize reproduction, and subordinates help defending the territory and caring for the offspring, while trying to gain dominance themselves. This stable social system is well suited to study personality development and the role of individual behavior in life history decisions.

My work is focused on the relationship between social roles and individual behavior, defined as behavioural patterns that are unique to an individual and consistently different to the behavior of others.

1) Testing the social niche hypothesis (Bergmuller Taborsky 2010)
I aim at empirically testing whether the experience of a specific social environment during ontogeny can affect the behavioural development of individuals, and create different behavioural types.

2) Individual behavioural types and social decisions
I investigate how the behavioural type of group members can influence acceptance of new individuals in a group, or mate choice and pair performance (with Master student Mattia Maldonado).

Curriculum Vitae

Since 2011 Phd student at the Department of Behavioural Ecology, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern, Switzerland. (Supervisors: Dr. Joachim Frommen, Prof. Michael Taborsky)
10/2010 Master of Sciences in Evolutionary Biology (110/110, cum laude), Department of Biology, University of Padova, Italy: “How do ecological conditions shape personality? Investigating the influence of predation risk on the development of behavioural syndromes” (Supervisors: Prof. Andrea Pilastro, Dr. Joachim Frommen)
6/2004 - 7/2008 Bachelor of Sciences in Biology, Department of Biology, University of Padova, Italy: "Ontogeny of numerical abilities in Poecilia reticulata (Ontogenesi delle abilitĂ  numeriche in Poecilia reticulata)". (Supervisors: Prof. Andrea Pilastro, Prof. Angelo Bisazza)


Balzarini V., Taborsky M., Villa F. & Frommen J.G. (2016) Computer animations of color markings reveal the function of visual threat signals in Neolamprologus pulcher. Curr. Zool. online first [pdf]

Balzarini, V., Taborsky, M., Wanner, S., Koch, F., & Frommen J.G. (2014) Mirror, mirror on the wall: the predictive value of mirror tests for measuring aggression in fish. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 68: 871-878 [pdf]

Contributions at Conferences


ESEB 2015 Lausanne, Switzerland
The social niche experienced early in life influences the behavioural phenotype
Padova 2013 University of Padova, Italy
Aggression, individual behavioural type and the social environment
KNDV 2013 International Conference on Individual Differences, 20th KNDV Zoology Conference, Groningen, Netherlands
How does individual behavioural type impact group efficiency in a cooperative breeder?
Behaviour 2013 Behaviour 2013, Newcastle, England
Integrating helpfulness and personality: towards a comprehensive behavioural type


ISBE 2014 15th Congress of the International Society of Behavioural Ecology, New York, USA
The relation between social role and behavioral phenotype: a test of the social niche hypothesis
Biology 14 Biology 14, Geneva, Switzerland
Fish opercular patterns as a signal of aggression
ISBE 2012 14th Congress of the International Society for Behavioural Ecology, Lund, Sweden
Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the most aggressive after all?
DZG 2011 104th Annual Meeting of the Deutsche Zoologische Gesellschaft, SaarbrĂĽcken, Germany
The influence of perceived predation risk on the development of behavioural syndromes in three-spined sticklebacks, Gasterosteus aculeatus

Grants and Awards

2014 Travel grant from the University of Bern for the 15th Congress of the International Society for Behavioural Ecology, New York, USA
2012 Prize for 3rd best poster at the 14th Congress of the International Society for Behavioural Ecology, Lund, Sweden
2010 Erasmus grant for Master student internship in Vienna, Austria

Press coverage