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Social behaviour is ubiquitous in nature, and lies at the heart of the so-called "major transitions in evolution", which resulted in the progressive evolution of cells, organisms and animal societies. The Laboratory of Socioecology and Social Evolution (LSSE) is interested in the factors that drive such social behaviour and other complex traits in nature, and uses social insects (ants, bees and wasps), microorganisms, humans and artificial robot swarms as its key model system. Aside from basic research on the evolution of sociality we also study more applied questions relating for example to honeybee diseases, swarm intelligence and evolutionary robotics. Among the techniques we use are video-assisted behavioural observation, pheromone bioassays, chemical analyses using GC/MS, functional morphology, evolutionary modeling, experimental games with human subjects, computer programming, genetic analysis of kinship patterns and microarray and RNAseq differential expression analysis.

Our team currently comprises two PIs, Prof. Tom Wenseleers and Prof. Johan Billen, four postdocs, nine PhD-students, one research fellow, three masters students, four bacherlors students, a lab technician and a varying number of visiting researchers. If you are interested in doing an internship, PhD or postdoc, please look under vacancies or drop us an email.

A sampling of some of our publications :

Molecular Ecology
Molecular Ecology



Does contraceptive use lead to an increased number of affairs? New paper in Trends in Ecology puts the data to the test.

Blood of former king Albert I identified after 80 years. In English. VTM news. Paper

Massive media frenzy after publication of our new paper in Trends in Ecology on human infidelity

Belg maakt dan toch amper koekoeksjongen, VTM nieuws 5 april 2016

Paper on ultrafast evolution of antibiotic tolerance out in Nature Microbiology

Postdoc Maarten Larmuseau nominated for the EOS Pipet Prize 2015 for his work on human extra-pair paternity

Antlike robots might help explain origins of cooperation, Science Magazine 2015. Listen to podcast

Chemisch wapen in wespennest. NRC Handelsblad 2015

Oldroyd (2015) A royal seal for wasp eggs, Current Biology

Oi et al. Current Biology 2015

Annette van Oystaeyen nominated for the Eos pipet prize 2014

Christiaens et al. Cell Reports 2014

New paper out in Science : Van Oystaeyen, Caliari, Holman, et al. Science 2014

De koningin houdt haar volk steriel, NRC Handelsblad 2014

A queen bee's secret pinpointed. The New York Times 2014

Smells like queen spirit - royal pheromones in insect colonies

Who's your daddy: Most men raising their own biological children, Fox News October 2013

Cuckolded fathers are actually very rare. The Economist October 2013

Slechts 1 procent 'onechte' kinderen. De Standaard oktober 2013

Het nut van kamikazes. Knack oktober 2011

Kamikaze ants protect the colony. New Scientist September 2011

Insecten leren ruimterobots een lesje. Campuskrant februari 2011

Biologists slam kin selection heretics. COSMOS Magazine August 2010

De vriendelijke mier. Sociobioloog Edward Wilson keert zich tegen verwantenselectie. NRC Handelsblad januari 2008

De knuppel in de bijenkorf. Knack februari 2007

Paper out in Nature : Wenseleers & Ratnieks Nature 2006

Ants harbor antibiotic to protect their crops. Scientific American January 2006

Paper out in Science : Currie, Poulsen, Mendenhall, Boomsma & Billen Science 2006

Cops with six legs. Law and order among insects. Science News 2006

Address & road map
Laboratory of Socioecology and Social Evolution
Zoological Institute
Naamsestraat 59
B-3000 Leuven
Tel: +32 (0)16 32 3975
Fax: +32 (0)16 32 4575

e-mail: Name.Surname@bio.kuleuven.be
Road map:
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Production: Tom Wenseleers | Most recent update: September 19, 2016
URL: http://www.kuleuven.ac.be/bio/ento