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The genetics of cooperation in Neolamprologus pulcher

Author Claudia KASPER-VÖLKL
Director of thesis Barbara Taborsky
Co-director of thesis Matthias Kölliker, Universität Basel Nadia Aubin-Hort, Université de Laval, Quebec
Summary of thesis

To date research on cooperative behavior in vertebrates has focused almost exclusively on its adaptive function. Understanding the evolution of cooperative behaviour requires also understanding its genetic basis, however, and in particular identifying genetic and environmental sources of phenotypic variation. We aim to investigate the genetic basis of cooperative behavior in the cooperatively breeding cichlid Neolamprologus pulcher, by following a dual approach: First, we will apply quantitative genetics to (i) estimate the heritability of helping propensity, (ii) find out about behavioural and/or physiological traits that are genetically correlated to helping propensity, and (iii) investigate gene-by-environment interactions, i.e. how the environmental need for help influences the expression of helping behaviour across genotypes. Second, we will employ a molecular genetics approach to study, amongst other things, the genes and neuroendocrine pathways involved in the control of helping behaviour.

Status middle
Administrative delay for the defence