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Dr. Jessica Purcell

I am fascinated by the evolution of many diverse and unique social systems in a wide range of organisms. In my research, I take advantage of natural variation in social behavior in order to try to understand the selective pressures that favor different social strategies. These differences may occur along altitudinal and latitudinal gradients, as in the social and subsocial Anelosimus spiders that I studied as a PhD student, or they may occur within a single habitat or even within a single population, as in the socially polymorphic Formica selysi ants that I am currently investigating during my postdoc. In particular, I have identified and manipulated ecological factors that may influence social structure in both organisms. These factors include rainfall and predator abundance in the tropical Anelosimus species, and the frequency of floods and susceptibility to pathogens in the temperate Formica ants.

2010 Postdoc
Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne.
Advisor: Michel Chapuisat

2009 Postdoc and Lecturer
Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia.
Advisor: Leticia Avilés

2004-2009 Ph.D.
Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia.
Advisor: Leticia Avilés
Dissertation: “Ecological influences and the biogeographic distribution of sociality in Anelosimus spiders”

2003-2004 Research Intern
Theoretical Ecology Department, Lund University.
Advisor: Anders Brodin

2002-2003 Fulbright Research Fellow in Bolivia.
1998-2002 B.A. cum laude, with honours in Biology
Biology and History, Williams College.


2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2008 | 2007 | 2004 |


Member of Chapuisat group

Biophore - CH-1015 Lausanne  - Switzerland  -  Tel. +41 21 692 41 60  -  Fax +41 21 692 41 65
Swiss University