Causes and consequences of sociality
I am a Senior Researcher in the Comparative Behavioral Ecology group of the Department of Human Behaviour, Ecology and Culture at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (see here for my full CV).
My research reveals that where and with whom individuals live influences how they behave
Populations do not consist of random collections of individuals, but of organised societies: individuals can live solitarily, in pairs, or in groups. I have shown that environmental conditions are a major explanation for why populations show different social organisations and behaviour.
Relationships among individuals vary widely: they might kill or help each other, with both sometimes occurring in the same species. I have shown how kinship among individuals shapes competition and cooperation. I am now determining how differences in behaviour link to reproductive success.
In my research, I primarily look at trees: family trees and phylogenetic trees
Information on the parents of individuals can reveal their ancestry and who is related to whom. This information also provides the full reproductive histories of individuals, showing if, how often, and when individuals had their children. We determine how kinship shapes behaviour and how behaviour influences reproduction.
To determine how the environment shapes behaviour, we perform comparisons across individuals, populations, and species. We identify when changes in sociality and behaviour occurred, what the conditions were at the time of the change, and how sociality subsequently influences physiology, morphology, and other behaviours.
Here are some of the projects I am currently involved in. Contact me in case you are interested in developing a project to apply for funding. For more on the vision and code of conduct of my research team please see the pages of the Comparative Behavioural Ecology group.
Marriages among cousins are common across human societies, despite the potential risk of inbreeding. Are these potential costs balanced by fitness benefits such that cousin marriages are an adaptive strategy in certain environments? With Arianna Dalzero
Sharing and reproduction
Across animals, risks and resource availabilities in the environment influence the timing and investment in reproduction. We are interested whether in humans transfer of resources might mean that reproduction is more shaped by the social than the ecological environment. With Pablo Jose Varas Enriquez
Behaviour and expansion
I am a collaborator on the great-tailed grackle project. This project investigates whether behaviour plays a role in their adaption to new environments. My particular focus is on understanding the mating and dispersal behaviour across their expansion range. With Corina Logan
Global social variation
Studies in mammals and birds have identified that species with certain social behaviour are predominantly found in certain environments. This project investigates whether humans living in these environments show similar behaviour. With Andreas Pondorfer and Toman Barsbai
Kinship and behaviour
Human and non-human societies differ in how closely individuals are related and whether families stay together. This project investigates whether kin composition influences interactions within groups. With Jeremy Koster and Tim Clutton-Brock
Competition between individuals is a fundamental aspect of the evolution of mammalian societies. Is it beneficial for individuals to rank above others of the same sex? And when would we expect that individuals of one sex have more power than individuals of the opposite sex. With Elise Huchard and Shivani
Diversity in Academia: in a collaboration with Dr Carter, Dr Croft, and Dr Sandstrom, we have collected an overview of data, resources, and advice around the attrition of minorities in academia. This arose from our project to promote diversity in question asking at academic seminars.
I am starting to turn information into blog posts:
- information on how to think about academic life after the PhD
- my experiences on outreach and interacting with the press
- tools and strategies for how to find data for comparative analyses
- links to information by other people with resources on academic career advice
- why and how to submit your preregistrations for peer-review
Job and grant information
I compiled a list of 250 funding agencies for postdoctoral research fellowships in the biological sciences.
Various online boards collect job announcements, here is a list of some in biology and conservation.
There are a number of searchable online databases with funding opportunities:
I have been fortunate to experience very supportive mentors, peers, and colleagues, and I work to create positive academic environments.
Existing biases and skewed incentive structures mean that opportunities, pay, and career progression are not equally available to all. To promote inclusive environments, I aim to:
Tools for comparative analyses
A number of researchers provide introductions and advice on how to perform comparative analyses in a phylogenetic framework:
News coverage of my research
I engage with people from diverse backgrounds who are fascinated by animal behaviour. These interactions inspire me to see new angles to my research. Here are some examples of my exchanges with science journalists:
An alternative creative, explorative, fun, and hands-on activity: finding, making, tasting, and enjoying food:
The following are preregistrations that have passed peer review for which we are currently collecting the data and completing the analyses. I provide links to the in-principle acceptance decisions, pdf of the preregistration, updated manuscript depending on status of the study, and where already available the data.
Peer-Reviewed Preregistration: How to succeed in human modified environments
Logan C, Shaw R, Lukas D, McCune K. (2022) Recommendation rr.peercommunityin.org/articles/rec?id=200
Peer-Reviewed Preregistration: Implementing a rapid geographic range expansion - the role of behavior and habitat changes.
Logan C, McCune K, Breen A, Chen N, Lukas D (2020) Recommendation doi: 10.24072/pci.ecology.100062
Peer-Reviewed Preregistration: Investigating the rare behavior of male parental care in great-tailed grackles.
Folsom MA, MacPherson M, Lukas D, McCune KB, Bergeron L, Bond A, Blackwell A, Rowney C, Logan CJ (2020) Recommendation doi: 10.24072/pci.ecology.100054
Peer-Reviewed Preregistration: Is behavioral flexibility related to foraging and social behavior in a rapidly expanding species?
Logan C, Lukas D, Bergeron L, Folsom M, McCune K. (2019) Recommendation doi: 10.24072/pci.ecology.100026
I provide links to the final versions on the publisher's websites, the deposited open pdfs, and data. For articles that were preregistered, I also provide links to the preregistrations and the in-principle acceptance.
The role of climate change and niche shifts in divergent range dynamics of a sister-species pair.
Summers J, Lukas D, Logan C, Chen N (2022) doi: 10.32942/osf.io/879pe
Fitness consequences of cousin marriage: a life-history assessment in two populations.
Dalzero A, Ross CT, Lukas D (2022) doi: 10.1017/ehs.2022.55
The eco-evolutionary landscape of power relationships between males and females.
Davidian E, Surbeck M, Lukas D, Kappeler PM, Huchard E (2022) doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2022.04.004
The effect of dominance rank on female reproductive success in social mammals.
Shivani, Huchard E, Lukas D (2022) doi: 10.24072/pcjournal.158
Local convergence of behavior across species.
Barsbai T, Lukas D, Pondorfer A (2021) doi: 10.1126/science.abb7481
Investigating sex differences in genetic relatedness in great-tailed grackles in Tempe, Arizona to infer potential sex biases in dispersal.
Sevchik A, Logan CJ, Bergeron L, McClune K, Blackwell A, Rowney C, Lukas D. (2021) doi: 10.32942/osf.io/t6beh; Version 5 of this preprint has been peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community In Ecology: doi: 10.24072/pci.ecology.10007
Article: publisher's website / pdf / data / code
Preregistration: in-principle acceptance preregistration / accepted version preregistration
The Potential to Infer the Historical Pattern of Cultural Macroevolution.
Lukas D, Towner M, Borgerhoff Mulder M (2021) doi: 10.1098/rstb.2020.0057
Monotocy and the evolution of plural breeding in mammals.
Lukas D, Clutton-Brock T (2020) doi:10.1093/beheco/araa039
Kinship across the lifespan in human communities.
Koster J, Lukas D, Nolin D, Power EA, Alvergne A, Mace R, Ross C, Kramer K, Greaves R, Caudell M, MacFarlan S, Schniter E, Quinlan R, Mattison S, Reynolds A, Yi-Sum C, Massengill E (2019) doi: 10.1098/rstb.2018.0069
The evolution of infanticide by females in mammals.
Lukas D & Huchard E (2019) doi: 10.1098/rstb.2018.0075
Social complexity: patterns, processes, and evolution.
Kappeler PM, Clutton-Brock T, Shultz S, Lukas D (2019) doi: 10.1007/s0026
Women's visibility in academic seminars: women ask fewer questions than men.
Carter A, Croft A, Lukas D & Sandstrom G (2018) doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0202743
Social complexity and kinship in animal societies
Lukas D & Clutton-Brock TH (2018) doi: 10.1111/ele.13079
Ingredients for Understanding Brain and Behavioral Evolution: Ecology, Phylogeny, and Mechanism
Montgomery SH, Currie A, Lukas D, Boogert N, Buskell A, Cross FR, Jelbert S, Avin S, Mares R, Navarrete AF, Shigeno S & Logan C (2018) doi: 10.3819/CCBR.2018.130011
Beyond brain size: uncovering the neural correlates of behavioral and cognitive specialization
Logan CJ, Avin S, Boogert N, Buskell A, Cross FR, Currie A, Jelbert S, Lukas D, Mares R, Navarette AF, Shigeno S & Montgomtery SH (2018) doi: 10.3819/CCBR.2018.130008
The relationship between egg size and helper number in cooperative breeders: a meta-analysis across species.
Dixit T, English S & Lukas D (2017) doi: 10.7717/peerj.4028
Reply: Comparative studies need to rely both on sound natural history data and on excellent statistical analysis.
Lukas D & Clutton-Brock (2017) doi: 10.1098/rsos.171211
Climate and the distribution of cooperative breeding in mammals.
Lukas D & Clutton-Brock T (2017) doi: 10.1098/rsos.160897
The evolution of infanticide by males in mammalian societies.
Lukas D & Huchard E (2014) doi: 10.1126/science.1257226
Revisiting non-offspring nursing: allonursing evolves when the costs are low.
MacLeod KJ & Lukas D (2014) doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0378
Costs of mating competition limit male lifetime breeding success in polygynous mammals.
Lukas D & Clutton-Brock TH (2014) doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0418
Junior scientists are sceptical of sceptics of open access: a reply to Agrawal.
Carter AJ, Horrocks NP, Huchard E, Logan CJ, Lukas D, MacLeod KJ, Marshall HM, Peck HL, Sanderson JL & Sorensen MC. (2014) doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2014.04.005
Evolution of social monogamy in primates is not consistently associated with male infanticide
Lukas D & Clutton-Brock TH (2014) doi: 10.1073/pnas.1401012111
The evolution of social monogamy in mammals.
Lukas D & Clutton-Brock TH (2013) doi: 10.1126/science.1238677
Caring for offspring in a world of cheats.
Lukas D (2013) doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001519
Individual variation in cognitive performance: developmental and evolutionary perspectives.
Thornton A & Lukas D (2012) doi: 10.1098/rstb.2012.0214
Life histories and the evolution of cooperative breeding in mammals.
Lukas D & Clutton-Brock TH (2012) doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.1433
Cooperative breeding and monogamy in mammalian societies.
Lukas D & Clutton-Brock TH (2012) doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.2468
The evolution of social philopatry and dispersal in female mammals.
Clutton-Brock TH & Lukas D (2012) doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05232.x
Group structure, kinship, inbreeding risk and habitual female dispersal in plural-breeding mammals.
Lukas D & Clutton-Brock TH (2011) doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02385.x
Male-mediated gene flow in patrilocal primates.
Schubert G, Stoneking CJ, Arandjelovic M, Boesch C, Eckhard N, Hohmann G, Langergraber K, Lukas D, Vigilant L (2011). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021514
Comparative study of genetic variation in relation to social structures of animals.
Lukas D (2008). PhD Thesis. Universitaet Leipzig.
Y-chromosome analysis confirms highly sex-biased dispersal and suggests a low male effective population size in bonobos (Pan paniscus).
Eriksson J, Siedel H, Lukas D, Kayser M, Erler A, Hashimoto C, Hohmann G, Boesch C & Vigilant L (2006) doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2006.02845.x
To what extent does living in a group mean living with kin?
Lukas D, Reynolds V, Boesch C & Vigilant L (2005) doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2005.02560.x
Nuclear insertions help and hinder inference of the evolutionary history of gorilla mtDNA.
Thalmann O, Serre D, Hofreiter M, Lukas D, Eriksson J & Vigilant L (2005) doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2004.02382.x
Major histocompatibility complex and microsatellite variation in two populations of wild gorillas.
Lukas D, Bradley BJ, Nsubuga AM, Doran-Sheehy D, Robbins M & Vigilant L (2004) doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2004.02353.x
Commentary on previous paper: Facts, faeces and setting standards for the study of MHC genes using noninvasive samples.
Lukas D & Vigilant L (2005) doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2005.02459.x
Dispersed male networks in western gorillas.
Bradley BJ, Doran-Sheehy DM, Lukas D, Boesch C & Vigilant L (2004) doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2004.02.062