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Deconstructing sociality: from insect societies to sustainable collective action in human society

Social behaviour is ubiquitous in nature, and lies at the heart of the so-called major transitions in evolution, which resulted in the progressive evolution of eukaryotic cells, multicellular organisms and animal societies. The absolute pinnacle of sociality is reached in some insect societies, where colonies can behave in such a highly integrated and coordinated fashion that they are often referred to as superorganisms. At the same time, large-scale cooperation also occurs in human society. In the present project I will study both insect societies and collective action dilemmas in humans to tackle major outstanding questions in the field of social evolution, such as how superorganismal traits are inherited, whether social traits can be culturally inherited in insect societies, how sociality evolved out of building blocks already present in pre-social ancestors and how collective action dilemmas in humans can undermine global crises, such as spreading pandemics or biodiversity crises. Overall, this project features an innovative mix of experimental work, mathematical modelling, next-gen omics analyses and behavioural data collection in human systems.

Date:1 Oct 2011 →  Today
Keywords:collective action dilemma's, social evolution, social insects, human behavior
Disciplines:Biology of behaviour, Behavioural ecology