Koos Boomsma's research group

Social Evolution

All aspects of life that involve biotic interactions can be conceptualized as being fundamentally social, but life presents itself at different levels of organizational complexity. After a career-long interest in studying the family-lives and symbioses of social insects, my interests have increasingly focused on the deep analogies between societies of cells and individuals, multicellular organisms and colonial superorganisms, and the irreversible major transitions that separate the different domains of organizational complexity.

The Centre for Social Evolution (CSE) studies the evolution of animal societies and the specific adaptations that produced morphologically differentiated castes. Social insects are ideal model systems for obtaining a general understanding of the diversity of social systems that originated through natural selection because there are several tens of thousands of species of ants, bees, wasps and termites. Each of these represents an evolutionary stable form of social organization in its particular ecological setting, and none of them needed culture to evolve. CSE research is driven by inclusive fitness and kin selection paradigms, which have also inspired a research program to understand the ultimate evolutionary backgrounds of human vulnerabilities to reproductive and mental diseases that are subject to deep evolutionary conflicts. CSE enjoyed large scale funding from the Danish National Science Foundation (Grundforskningsfonden) from 2005-2015 and from my ERC Advanced grant (2013-2018). Publications continue to appear but my group has become smaller and the CSE legacy now mainly continues in the research programs of David Nash, Michael Poulsen , Jonathan Shik and Guojie Zhang. 

Funded by:


Section for Ecology and Evolution
Universitetsparken 15
DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark

Professor Koos Boomsma
Email: jjboomsma@bio.ku.dk
Phone: +45 353 21340
     Fax: +45 353 21250