My main interest is to understand the evolutionary roots of cooperative behaviour and to apply this knowledge to nature conservation. Natural resources such as fish stocks, fresh water, and forests often constitute common goods that are subject to the tragedy of the commons. People sharing such resources are faced with a social dilemma: if all group members cooperate (i.e. take their share only), all gain, whereas for each individual it is more beneficial to cheat (i.e. to take more than his or her share). I use game theory to specify strategies that establish and maintain cooperation among selfish individuals, both in theoretical models and in experiments with non-human animals and with humans. Recently we set up an Internet platform to study decisions of volunteers facing different social dilemmas.
Everybody can register and take part in our experiments at: https://games.unil.ch Further I am studying an informal institution of natural resource preservation in Kodagu, South India. 'Sacred groves' are forest patches that are protected by communities through social norms. They exist in many countries all over the world. In collaboration with Shonil Bhagwat at the Oxford University Centre for the Environment, Jaboury Ghazoul at the ETH Zurich, and Cheppudira Kushalappa at the Forestry College in Ponnampet we are assessing eco-services provided by sacred groves to local communities and study the social mechanisms underlying the protection of these forests.
Our research is partly funded by the Cogito Foundation Zurich and the Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries (www.kfpe.ch).
Born January 1st, 1970 in Germany
Jan 2006 -
Research Assistant, Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne
Research Assistant, Conservation Biology, University of Bern
2004 - 2005
Research Fellow, Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
2001 - 2004
PhD study, Behavioural Ecology, University of Bern
Assistant, World Wide Fund for Nature Germany
Research Assistant, Konrad-Lorenz-Institute for Comparative Ethology, Vienna, Austria
Diploma in Biology, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany