My research focus is on cooperation within and between species
(mutualism). I aim to test game theoretic models and to refine them
in collaboration with theoreticians. Furthermore, I am interested in
links between a game theoretic approach, animal cognition and
behavioural endocrinology. A major future topic will be decision
making in the context of social strategies.
The cleaning mutualism between the wrasse Labroides dimidiatus
and other reef fish has been and will continue to be the main model
system. These cleaners remove ectoparasites from client reef fish
but prefer to eat mucus, which constitutes cheating. We currently
use a comparative approach that includes another cleaner wrasse
L. bicolor, a species that, in contrast to L. dimidiatus, lacks
cleaning stations and thus makes it hard for the clients to achieve
a repeated game.
Cleaning gobies of the Caribbean are interesting because they
actually prefer to cooperate by eating ectoparasites rather than
client mucus. We compare these highly specialized cleaner
species to a variety of facultative cleaners and non cleaning
wrasses to uncover the causes/consequences of cleaning on
cooperation, cognition and physiology.
In addition, I have worked on predator-prey relationships in my
PhD study on arboreal primates in the Ivory Coast, and I currently
investigate a variety of cooperative hunting systems in the Red
Sea and on Lizard Island, Australia. Interspecific collaborative
hunting between groupers and moray eels is interesting because
of the communicative aspects, which include gestures. Yellow
goatfish hunt in groups and are highly coordinated. Both systems
can be subjected to experiments in the laboratory.
A further project focuses on the interactions between sabre tooth
blennies and their reef fish victims out of which the blennies bite
bits of flesh. These interactions interest me in particular as the
victimsmay punish the blennies but face the tragedy of the
commons problem with their conspecifics who also benefit from
any punishment action against the blenny without bearing the
costs of punishment. Thus, this project deals with social dilemmas
and how they can be solved under natural conditions. We recently
conducted lab experiments in Egypt.
We are also about to complete two more exotic projects. The first
is a collaboration with Cris Kuhlemeier on a flowering plant-
pollinator mutualism to understand why plants (usually) offer nectar
rather than trying to save the energy for other tasks. We produced
crossing lines of Petunia plants that offer less nectar than usual
and let their natural pollinators interact with a mixed population to
look for any negative consequences of reduced nectar provisioning.
The second project is on social behaviour and cognition in wild
corvids (rooks and crows) in the Canton of Neuchâtel.
Some publications will come out of this project but I recommend
any colleague interested in staging a similar project to contact us
in order to get some ideas about potential challenges.
Finally, I returned partly to my primatological PhD roots.
In collaboration with Prof Sarah Brosnan we compare cleaner
wrasse to various primates in order to test the specificity of
selection on social intelligence. In addition, I officially lead a
Sinergia project financed by the Swiss Science Foundation to
study social strategies and cognition in vervet monkeys in South
Africa. Collaboration partners are Carel van Schaik (University
of Zürich), Andy Whiten (University of St.-Andrews) and Klaus
Zuberbühler (University of Neuchâtel). The ‘true’ leader and soul
of the project is Erica van de Waal (St.-Andrews). The project is
generously hosted by Justin O'Riain (University of Cape Town).
Key current collaboration partners not mentioned in the text:
cooperative hunting and cleaning mutualism
Tom Sherratt , University of Carleton:
game theoretic modelling of cooperation
behavioural endocrinology and neuroendocrinology of fishes
| since 10/2004 || Professor in behavioural ecology |
at the University of Neuchâtel
| 07/2003-07/2004 || Lecturer in behavioural ecology |
at the School of Biological Sciences
at Liverpool University
| 09/2002-06/2003 || Research project collaboration |
between the MPIV Seewiesen and
the Cambridge Zoology Department
on game theoretic modelling, cleaning
symbiosis and on interspecific
cooperative hunting between groupers
and morray eels (DFG grant)
| 08/2002 || Nico Tinbergen award |
from the Ethological Society
(equivalent to the ASAB
young scientist award)
| 09/2000-08/2002 || Marie Curie grant |
from the European Union to work
with Dr. Rufus Johnstone at Cambridge,
UK, continuing the work on cleaning
| 09/1997-08/2000 || Start of own project |
financed by the German Science
Foundation (DFG grant) on marine
cleaning symbiosis at Ras Mohammed
National Park, Egypt
and on Lizard Island, Australia
| 10/1995-08/1997 || Post-doc at the MPIV Seewiesen. |
Further studies on arboreal monkeys
in the Taï National Park, Ivory Coast.
The two main topics were:
learning in predator-prey arms races and
communication between prey and predator
| 01/1992-10/1995 || PhD at the MPIV Seewiesen |
on the advantages of mixed species
associations in arboreal
monkeys in Taï National Park, Ivory Coast
Supervisor: Dr. Wolfgang Wickler and
Prof Dr. Gerhard Neuweiler
|07/1991|| Master thesis |
at the Max-Planck-Institute for Behaviour
and Physiology, Seewiesen on the mechanisms
of social appeasement in domestic fowl.
Supervisor: Prof Dr. Jürg Lamprecht
| 10/1985-11/1991 || Study of Biology at Ludwig-Maximilian-University, |
Main subject: Zoology.
Additional subjects: Botany and Psychology
Selected recent publications
Vail A, Manica A & Bshary R (2013)
Fish (Serranidae: Plectropomus spp.) gesture referentially to
collaborative hunting partners.
Nature Communications 4, 1765 | DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2781
Brandenburg A, Kuhlemeier C & Bshary R (2012)
Hawkmoth pollinators decrease seed set of a low nectar Petunia
axillaris line through reduced probing time .
Current Biology 22,1635-1639.
Raihani NJ, Pinto AI, Grutter AS, Wismer S & Bshary R (2012)
Male cleaner wrasses adjust punishment of female partners
according to the stakes.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 279, 365-370.
Ros AFH, Vullioud P & Bshary R (2012)
Treatment with the glucocorticoid antagonist RU486 reduces co-
operative cleaning visits of a common reef fish, the lined bristletooth.
Hormones and Behavior 61, 37-43.
Salwiczek LH, Prétôt L, Demarta L, et al. Bshary R (2012)
Adult cleaner wrasse outperform capuchin monkeys, chimpanzees
and orang-utans in a complex foraging task derived from cleaner –
client reef fish cooperation.
PLoS One 7: e49068.
van de Waal E, Krützen M, Hula J, Goudet J & Bshary R (2012)
Similarity in food cleaning techniques within matrilines in wild vervet
PLoS One 7, e35694.
Bshary R & Bronstein JS (2011)
A general scheme to predict partner control mechanisms in pairwise
cooperative interactions between unrelated individuals.
Ethology 117, 271-283.
Pinto AI, Oates J, Grutter AS & Bshary R (2011)
Cleaner wrasses Labroides dimidiatus are more cooperative in the
presence of an audience.
Current Biology 21: 1140-1144.
Soares MS, Oliveira RF, Ros AFH, Grutter AS & Bshary R (2011)
Tactile stimulation lowers stress in fish.
Nature Communications 2, 534.
Yeaman S, Bshary R & Lehmann L (2011)
The effect of innovation and sex-specific migration on neutral cultural
Animal Behaviour 82, 101-112.
Brosnan SF, Salwiczek L & Bshary R (2010)
The interplay of cognition and cooperation.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 365, 2699-2710.
Bshary A & Bshary R (2010)
Self-Serving Punishment of a Common Enemy Creates a
Public Good in Reef Fishes.
Current Biology 22, 2032-2035.
Raihani NJ, Grutter AS & Bshary R (2010)
Punishers benefit from third-party punishment in fish.
Science 327, 171.
van de Waal E, Renevey N, Favre CM & Bshary R (2010)
Selective attention to philopatric models causes directed social
learning in wild vervet monkeys.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 277, 2105-2111.
publications Redouan Bshary
room: D 130
Université de Neuchâtel
Institut de Biologie
Rue Emile-Argand 11
Tel. +41 32 718 30 05
Fax +41 32 718 30 01