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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 uses social insects (ants, bees and wasps) 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, 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, three postdocs, ten PhD-students, one research fellow, five masters students, seven bacherlors students, a lab technician and a varying number of visiting researchers. Over the next few years, it is likely that the lab will expand further. 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


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 laureate of the Eos Golden pipet prize 2014

Christiaens et al. Cell Reports 2014

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

Wenseleers & Ratnieks Nature 2006

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

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: August 20, 2015
URL: http://www.kuleuven.ac.be/bio/ento