PNAS - Predation risk drives social complexity in cooperative breeders. Groenewoud, Frommen, Josi, Tanaka, Jungwirth & Taborsky
NATURE COMMUNICATIONS Kinship reduces alloparental care in cooperative
cichlids where helpers pay-to-stay
Zoettl M., Heg D., Chervet N. & Taborsky M. (2013)
Social competence: an evolutionary approach
Taborsky, B. & Oliveira, R.F.
Larval helpers and age polyethism in ambrosia beetles
Biedermann P.H.W. & Taborsky M.
Animal personality due to social niche specialisation
Bergmueller R. & Taborsky M.
Environmental Change Enhances Cognitive Abilities in Fish
Kotrschal, A. & Taborsky, B.
Extended phenotypes as signals
Franziska C. Schaedelin and Michael Taborsky
On the Origin of Species by Natural
and Sexual Selection
G. Sander van Doorn, Pim Edelaar, Franz J. Weissing
Cambridge University Press
Alternative Reproductive Tactics: An Integrative
Oliveira R., Taborsky M. & Brockmann H.J.
â€śAn understanding of the natural world and what's in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment.â€ť David Attenborough
Phone: +41 (0)31 631 9151
Homepage: personal website
I studied biology at the University of Mainz (Germany). After receiving my Diploma degree (equivalent to a M.Sc.), I started my PhD at the Department of Behavioural Ecology in Bern. My research interests lie mainly in the field of animal behaviour, in particular in an understanding of the mechanisms of complex social life. Additionally, I have always been interested in applied issues like animal welfare.
Current Research Area
During my studies I was especially fascinated by the evolution of cooperative behaviours. Animals cooperate by benefiting others on own costs. Indeed, on the first view cooperativeness seems to contradict Charles Darwinâ€™s theory of evolution. While thinking about eusocial insects, Darwin stated: â€žâ€¦one special difficulty, which at first appeared to me fatal to the whole theory of evolutionâ€¦â€ś. However, Darwin also offered a solution to this problem when stating in â€śThe origin of speciesâ€ť (1859) that the problem â€žâ€¦disappears, if one remembers that selection can also act on the family, not only on the individualâ€¦â€ť. However, cooperation also takes frequently place between unrelated individuals. Possible explanations are far less studied. One mechanism that maintains cooperation is reciprocity. Here, an individual helps a partner because this partner previously helped the first.
In my PhD I studied mechanisms underlying reciprocal helping behaviour in undomesticated wild-type Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus). Rats live in big colonies and show a wide range of social behaviours such as food sharing, huddling or allogrooming. In this highly social species, previous lab studies have shown that the propensity of a rat to cooperate is dependent on its previous cooperative experience. I investigate reciprocal exchanges of different services both in a two-player food exchange task (simulating an iterated Prisonerâ€™s dilemma game) and under more natural conditions. In addition, I am interested which social factors influence reciprocal trading.
Schweinfurth, M.K. & Taborsky, M. (2016) No evidence for audience effects in reciprocal cooperation of Norway rats Ethology 122: 513â€“521 [PDF]
|10/13 - 03/17
||PhD thesis: "Whom to help, how and why? Reciprocal trading among Norway rats" (Bern, Switzerland) Supervisor: Prof. Michael Taborsky|
|09/12 - 06/13||Diploma thesis: â€śProximate mechanisms of reciprocal cooperation in Norway ratsâ€ť (Bern, Switzerland) Supervisor: Prof. Michael Taborsky|
|04/11 - 06/11||Field assistance: â€śSocial factors and parasite burden in hand-raised greylag goslingsâ€ť (GrĂĽnau, Austria)|
|04/08 - 06/13||Study of Biology at Johannes-Gutenberg University with a focus on Zoology, Ecology, Botany and Psychology (Mainz, Germany)|
Contributions at Conferences
ECBB2016 (Vienna, Austria)
12th topical meeting of the Ethological Society (Bonn, Germany)
Biology17 (Bern, Switzerland)
Summer School "Minds of Animals" (Bern, Switzerland)
ISBE2016 (Exeter, England)Schweinfurth, M.K., Gerber, N. & Taborsky, M. (2016)
ECBB2016 (Vienna, Austria)Aeschbacher, J., Schweinfurth, M.K. & Taborsky, M. (2016)
European Student Conference on Behaviour & Cognition (St Andrews, Scotland)
11th topical meeting of the Ethological Society (GĂ¶ttingen, Germany)
Biology16 (Lausanne, Switzerland)Schweinfurth, M.K., Stieger, B. & Taborsky, M. (2015)
Behaviour2015 (Cairns, Australia)
Interdisciplinary summer school â€śOrigins of human cooperationâ€ť (TĂĽbingen, Germany)
10th topical meeting of the Ethological Society (Hamburg, Germany)
Biology15 (DĂĽbendorf, Switzerland)
ISBE2014 (New York, USA)
ECBB2014 (Prague, Czech Republic)
Biology Day (Bern, Switzerland)
Biology16 (Lausanne, Switzerland)
Biology14 (Geneva, Switzerland)