Evolutionary Ecology
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Dr. Yimen Araya

Research Project

Aggressiveness in a social environment: effects on individual variation in behavior and fitness.

Funded by the German Academic Exchange Service and the Max Planck Society, PhD Student Yimen Araya, Advisors: N.J. Dingemanse & B. Kempenaers (MPIO)

Social selection results from selection pressures imposed by social interactions. Therefore, conspecifics could be regarded as an environmental contingency. It has always been thought that the selective pressures of the social environment shape the evolution of social behaviours. But just until recently the general principles of the evolutionary dynamics of social interactions have been modelled based on a social selection theory framework. In my research I want to understand how aggressiveness in the social environment affects individual’s fitness and aggressive behaviour. I want to assess two predictions of theoretical models of social behaviour evolution in a meta-population of wild great tits. 1) Aggressiveness of the social environment has an effect on individuals' reproductive success and 2) the social environment affects the within and between individual variation in aggressive behaviour. Quantifying how plasticity in aggressive behavior interacts with the selective pressures of the social environment is key to understanding the evolutionary dynamics of social behaviours.