• Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources

    InBIO Associate Laboratory

    Research Center in  Biodiversity and Genetic Resources
  • Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources

    InBIO Associate Laboratory

    Research Center in  Biodiversity and Genetic Resources
  • Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources

    InBIO Associate Laboratory

    Research Center in  Biodiversity and Genetic Resources
  • Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources

    InBIO Associate Laboratory

    Research Center in  Biodiversity and Genetic Resources
 
 
 
 
Animal Sociality - SOCIALITY
 

Group Description

 

Our group studies the causes, processes and consequences of animal sociality and cooperation. We use birds and fish as models, and work mostly in Africa (birds) and the Caribbean and Pacific (fish). The methods used range from molecular and physiological techniques to behavioural studies based on either experiments conducted in captivity or long-term monitoring of free-ranging, individually marked animals. We also conduct comparative studies mostly using island as laboratories of ecology and evolution. Our group is structured around three independent but connected topics that focus on the evolution and consequences of sociality (Covas), the physiological mechanisms underlying cooperation (Soares) and behavioural adaptation on islands (Covas).


Evolution of Cooperation: Using the long-term study of a wild cooperative bird from South Africa, we collect detailed individual data used to test hypotheses about the evolution of cooperation and the consequences of social structure for population dynamics. Main aims are to determine:

1) the relative role of social and sexual selection for the evolution of cooperation;

2) the consequences of sociality for population dynamics and a possible buffering role of cooperation.


Physiology of cooperation: Using cleanerfish as models we will:

1) continue to search for the neuro-hormonal candidates that modulate levels of cooperation in fish mutualisms;

2) establish new experimental paradigms;

3) test these paradigms to study the mechanisms that render altruistic behaviour psychologically rewarding;

4) expand to other models systems such as the zebrafish.


Adaptation on islands: We aim to continue our assessment of insularity syndromes in birds for behavioural traits and investigate the factors underlying some of the patterns we uncovered previously. Namely:

1) determine which factors promote the evolution of group living and cooperation on islands;

2) investigate the factors underlying reduced sexual ornamentation on islands.