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Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies

Evolutionary Ecology of Social Interactions

Our research aims to elucidate the mechanisms that generate and maintain diversity in animal behaviour. Our primary objective is to gain a deeper understanding of how behavioural variation influences ecological interactions and evolution in a changing environment. To address these challenges, we employ a multidisciplinary approach, integrating theoretical, statistical, and experimental methods from two fields: behavioural ecology and quantitative genetics.

Our current focus is on clarifying the crucial role played by behavioural plasticity in mediating social interactions among conspecifics. We use Drosophila prolongata as a model organism to explore individual responses to social partners during competitive interactions. Our goals include (1) quantifying the relative contributions of the environment and genetics to the among-individual variation in behavioural plasticity, and (2) determining the extent to which behavioural plasticity in social traits alters the evolutionary response to natural selection.

Group leader: Dr. Tom Ratz

Research themes

  • Intraspecific competition and aggression
  • Social selection and the evolution of interactive phenotypes
  • Behavioural plasticity
  • Individual trait variation
  • Evolutionary response to selection
  • Experimental evolution and artificial selection