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

Corinna von Kürthy



Email: corinna.vonkuerthy@iee.unibe.ch

Phone: +41 31 631 91 58

Research Interests

Already during my undergraduate studies I was fascinated by the remarkable variety of mating systems and strategies found in the animal kingdom. My current research focuses on alternative reproductive tactics (ARTs) of a tropical freshwater cichlid, Lamprologus callipterus. In fishes the occurrence of ARTs has been demonstrated to be widespread in different families, with males adopting extremely diverse reproductive behaviours (Taborsky 1994, 2001). For our understanding of behavioural, morphological and physiological trade-offs in ARTs it is of paramount importance to unravel the causes of success and failure during courtship, spawning and sperm competition. Therefore, the major aim of my research is to investigate the mechanisms by which the reproductive success of different male tactics is obtained and in particular, whether there are tactic specific adjustments to different forms and intensities of competition. I investigate these questions in the field under natural conditions (Lake Tanganyika, Zambia), as well as experimentally in the laboratory at the Department of Behavioural Ecology, University of Bern.

Lamprologus callipterus: Large nest male (left) and tiny dwarf male (right).

Study species

As a model system to study these questions I use the shell brooding cichlid Lamprologus callipterus from Lake Tanganyika, East Africa. In this species, a remarkable reproductive polymorphism is found, with:

1. A large, territorial nest male that provides empty snail shells as breeding substrate, protection to the females and parental care to the offspring (resource defense polygyny);

2. Opportunistic sneaker males (conditional tactic) parasitizing the effort of the nest males by sneaking into the nest trying to steal fertilizations;

3. And a third genetically fixed tactic, the tiny dwarf male, that tries to steal fertilizations from the territory owners by trying to wriggle past a spawning female into the tip of the snail shell, from where it releases sperm during the spawning.


von Kuerthy, C., Ros, A.F., Taborsky, M. (2016) Androgen responses to reproductive competition of males pursuing either fixed or plastic alternative reproductive tactics. Journal of Experimental Biology 219, 3544-3553 [pdf]

von Kuerthy, C., Taborsky, M. (2016) Contest versus scramble competition among males pursuing fixed or plastic alternative reproductive tactics. Animal Behaviour 113: 203-212 [pdf]

von Kuerthy, C., Tschirren, L. & Taborsky, M. (2015): Alternative reproductive tactics in snail shell-brooding cichlids diverge in energy reserve allocation. Ecology and Evolution [pdf]

Meekan, MG., von Kuerthy, C., McCormick, MI. & Radford, B. (2010): Behavioural mediation of the costs and benefits of fast growth in a marine fish. Animal Behaviour 79: 803-809 [pdf]

Contributions at Conferences:


IZW Seminar Seminar talk at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin, Germany

Behavioural and physiological mediation of plastic and fixed alternative reproductive tactics
Behaviour 2015 Joint meeting of the International Ethological Conference (IEC), Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASSAB), Australasian Evolution Society (AES), and Australasia, New Zealand and Africa Region of Applied Ethology.

Contest vs. scramble competition and androgen responsiveness of males pursuing fixed and plastic alternative reproductive tactics
ISBE 2014 International Society for Behavioral Ecology conference 2014 in NYC, USA.

Contest vs. scramble competition and energy reserve management in male cichlids pursuing alternative mating tactics
ECBB 2014 European Conference on Behavioural Biology, Prague, Czech Republic.

Contest vs. scramble competition between males pursuing alternative mating tactics


ISRPF 2014 10th International Symposium on Reproductive Physiology of Fish.

Alternative reproductive tactics in snail-shell brooding cichlids diverge in energy reserve management.
IZW 2011 8th International Conference on Behaviour, Physiology and Genetics of Wildlife.

Capital breeders and income breeders among males pursuing alternative reproductive tactics.


Nachwuchsförderung Universität Bern Travel Grant to attend the Behaviour 2015 conference in Cairns, Australia.
UniBern Forschungsstiftung Travel Grant to attend the ISBE 2014 conference in New York City, USA.
DAAD- Scholarship Scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Council. Funding for the field work of the Diplom-thesis at the Lizard Island Research station in Queensland & funding for the lab work at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Darwin, Australia.