• About Me

    I investigate why animals differ in their social behaviour. I classify the extent of cooperation and competition between individuals in a wide range of populations and identify which environmental conditions lead to certain behaviours.

    I am a Senior Researcher in the Department of Human Behaviour, Ecology and Culture at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. There are opportunities to apply for funding to join my groups for postdoctoral fellows and PhD students. Contact me if you are interested in developing a project.


    My full CV


    Email: dieter_lukas [@] eva.mpg.de

    Twitter: @DieterLukas

  • Projects

    My research focuses on three main themes:


    Animal 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, in mammals, changes in environmental conditions influence the distribution of females, and males arrange themselves in response to females.


    Relationships among individuals vary widely: they might kill or help each other, with both sometimes occurring in the same species. I have shown how the distribution of individuals, and in particular kinship, shapes competition and cooperation

    Phylogenetic comparisons

    Fundamental to my research are evolutionary reconstructions across the tree of life. I 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.

  • Resources

    I am starting to turn this information into blog posts - the first ones on outreach and on how to find data are now up at my github site.

    Job and grant information

    I compiled a list of 230 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:

    • Research Professional for researchers based at UK universities with subscriptions
    • SPIN for US universities  with subscriptions; Instrumentl for individuals/institutions with subscriptions (mainly US)
    • ELFI for German universities with subscriptions
    • Information on funding for early career researchers (master's through to postdoc) from grad centers at UCLAUChicago, and Harvard University 
    • Lists of private philanthropic foundations in the US, in the UK, in Switzerland, and in Germany.


    Academic career advice

    Various scientists and institutions provide advice on the diverse aspects of an academic career:


    Academic culture

    I have been fortunate to experience very supportive supervisors, 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:

    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:

    Tools for comparative analyses

    A number of researchers provide introductions and advice on how to perform comparative analyses in a phylogenetic framework:

    Data for comparative analyses

    A short selection of sites with information on our living world:

  • Publications

    I provide links to the final versions on the publisher's websites, the deposited open pdfs, and data.

    Women's visibility in academic seminars: women
    ask fewer questions than men.

    Carter A, Croft A, Lukas D, Sandstrom G (in review) arXiv preprint 1711.10985 .

    Social complexity and kinship in animal societies

    Lukas D & Clutton-Brock TH (2018) Ecology Letters 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) Comparative Cognition & Behaviour Reviews: 13, 99-104

    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) Comparative Cognition & Behavior Reviews: 13, 55-90

    The relationship between egg size and helper number in cooperative breeders: a meta-analysis across species.

    Dixit T, English S & Lukas D (2017) PeerJ 5:e4028

    Reply: Comparative studies need to rely both on sound natural history data and on excellent statistical analysis.

    Lukas D & Clutton-Brock (2017) Royal Society Open Science 4, 171211

    Climate and the distribution of cooperative breeding in mammals.

    Lukas D & Clutton-Brock T (2017) Royal Society Open Science 4, 160897

    The evolution of infanticide by males in mammalian societies.

    Lukas D & Huchard E (2014) Science 346: 841-844

    Revisiting non-offspring nursing: allonursing evolves when the costs are low.

    MacLeod KJ & Lukas D (2014) Biology Letters 10: 20140378

    Costs of mating competition limit male lifetime breeding success in polygynous mammals.

    Lukas D & Clutton-Brock TH (2014) Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281: 20140418

    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) Trends in Plant Science 19: 339-340

    Evolution of social monogamy in primates is not consistently associated with male infanticide

    Lukas D & Clutton-Brock TH (2014) PNAS 111: E1674

    The evolution of social monogamy in mammals.

    Lukas D & Clutton-Brock TH (2013) Science 341: 526-530.

    Caring for offspring in a world of cheats.

    Lukas D (2013) PLOS Biology 11(3): e1001519.

    Individual variation in cognitive performance: developmental and evolutionary perspectives.

    Thornton A & Lukas D (2012) Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 367: 2773-2783.

    Life histories and the evolution of cooperative breeding in mammals.

    Lukas D & Clutton-Brock TH (2012) Proceedings of the Royal Society B 279: 4065-4070.

    Cooperative breeding and monogamy in mammalian societies.

    Lukas D & Clutton-Brock TH (2012) Proceedings of the Royal Society B 279: 2151-2156.

    The evolution of social philopatry and dispersal in female mammals.

    Clutton-Brock TH & Lukas D (2012) Molecular Ecology 21: 472-492.

    Group structure, kinship, inbreeding risk and habitual female dispersal in plural-breeding mammals.

    Lukas D & Clutton-Brock TH (2011) Journal of Evolutionary Biology 24: 2624-30.

    Male-mediated gene flew in patrilocal primates.

    Schubert G, Stoneking CJ, Arandjelovic M, Boesch C, Eckhard N, Hohmann G, Langergraber K, Lukas D, Vigilant L (2011). PloS One 6(7): e21514.

    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) Molecular Ecology 15: 939-949.

    To what extent does living in a group mean living with kin?

    Lukas D, Reynolds V, Boesch C and Vigilant L (2005) Molecular Ecology 14:2181-2196.

    Nuclear insertions help and hinder inference of the evolutionary history of gorilla mtDNA.

    Thalmann O, Serre D, Hofreiter M, Lukas D, Eriksson J and Vigilant L (2005) Molecular Ecology 14:179-188.

    Major histocomptability complex and microsatellite variation in two populations of wild gorillas.

    Lukas D, Bradley BJ, Nsubuga AM, Doran-Sheehy D, Robbins M, Vigilant L (2004) Molecular Ecology 13: 3389-3402.

    Commentary on previous paper: Facts, faeces and setting standards for the study of MHC genes using noninvasive samples.

    Lukas D and Vigilant L (2005) Molecular Ecology 14: 1601-1602.

    Dispersed male networks in western gorillas.


    Bradley BJ, Doran-Sheehy DM, Lukas D, Boesch C and Vigilant L (2004) Current Biology 14: 510-513.