The use of vertebrate model systems to study social evolution

The use of vertebrate model systems to study social evolution
15 – 18 August 2009, Adelboden, Bernese Alps, Switzerland

Invited speakers:
Prof. Nadia Aubin-Horth, Université de Montréal, Canada
Prof. Sigal Balshine, McMaster University, Canada
Prof. Tim Clutton-Brock, University of Cambridge, UK
Prof. Jan Komdeur, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Netherlands
Dr. David S. Richardson, University of East Anglia, UK

To understand the evolution of complex social organization (including
structured groups, cooperation between group members, task sharing,
individualized relationships, divergent social roles) we need suitable
model systems that (1) dispose of the required complexity of social
organization, (2) allow to observe and measure relevant traits and their
fitness effects in the field, and (3) enable performance of crucial
experiments to unravel underlying ultimate and proximate mechanisms of
advanced sociality. Among vertebrates, there are a few model systems that
fulfil these criteria, like meerkats, Seychelles warblers and Lake
Tanganyika cichlids. The aim of this symposium is to provide
state-of-the-art insight into the mechanisms underlying advanced social
behaviour by bringing together experts studying respective model systems
in mammals, birds and fishes.

Structure of the symposium:
Invited speakers and other participants who wish to contribute to the
theme of the symposium will present relevant results and overviews of
the(ir) research on the respective model systems. In the discussion, we
shall emphasize the involved ultimate and proximate mechanisms and attempt
to compare them between different vertebrate taxa to understand the
importance of intrinsic differences in their biology. We shall further
discuss the pros and cons of the respective model systems to unravel
general principles of social evolution. We expect that at the end of this
symposium the participants will dispose of a good understanding of some of
the most complex and best studied model systems of social evolution.

Where and when:
The symposium will take place in Adelboden, an alpine village in the
Bernese Alps ( ). The venue is
the high-altitude holiday resort Crea ( )
that combines the convenience of a nice setting in a breathtaking landscape with
the practical amenities of a well-proven seminar venue. It is within easy reach
by public transport from any Swiss city. For all details of the meeting and
registration please consult:

Registration until 1 July 2009 at:

Credits:1-2 ECTS can be obtained, depending on the contribution of the
participant Organizer: Michael Taborsky, University of Bern
( )


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