Cooperation, conflict and social plasticity: What can we learn from fish?

DISCIPLINE : BIOLOGY

Cooperation, conflict and social plasticity: What can we learn from fish?

“A fundamental question across behavioral disciplines is: What are the underlying causes and consequences of cooperation and conflict? Organisms from bacteria to humans can cooperate and respond to their social environment in ways that affect not only their behavior, but also their survival and reproduction. Despite this, our understanding of social behavior is incomplete. We know in general terms why behaviors such as cooperation and conflict exist. But we cannot reliably predict what kind of social interactions will occur or how individuals will respond to the behavior of others. My research focuses on understanding how behavioral plasticity during social interactions (that involve cooperation, competition and conflict) evolves and affects observed patterns of mating and parental care. In this talk, I will first briefly review sexual selection, behavioral plasticity and social competence from an evolutionary perspective. I will then present some theory on how sexual selection and social interactions affect patterns of mating and parental care across organisms. Finally, I will present some of our research on the ocellated wrasse (a marine fish found throughout the Mediterranean), a species in which three alternative male reproductive types coexist that differ in the degree to which they cooperate and compete and in which social interactions drive the strength and direction of sexual selection. I will finish by discussing my current research plans to study sexual selection on social competence and the evolution of mechanisms underlying social plasticity.”

 Suzanne Alonzo  comes from the University of California Santa Cruz. Her research interest are: Theoretical and empirical research examining how coevolutionary dynamics and social interactions affect sexual selection and reproductive behaviors.

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