Christina Riehl

Associate Professor | EEB
Behavior and Life History Evolution
Office Phone
405 Guyot Hall
My research focuses on the evolution of social behavior, particularly the evolution of cooperative breeding in birds. I use a combination of methods including behavioral observations, molecular genotyping, and field experiments to determine the reproductive fitness of individuals in cooperatively breeding groups. I am also interested in brood parasitic life-history tactics, and the co-evolution of behaviors of avian brood parasites and their hosts. Most of my research is centered in the Neotropics, with field sites in Colombia and Panama (in collaboration with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute). Recent projects in my lab have focused on the following questions:
  • Why, and how, does cooperation evolve between unrelated individuals? What stabilizes cooperative interactions when kin selection is absent
  • What prevents cheating in cooperative animal groups, and do group members punish one another to enforce cooperation?
  • How do animal groups come to collective decisions? How do group members synchronize shared activities such as movement or reproduction, and how are conflicts resolved when the fitness interests of group members do not align?
  • What are the selective pressures -- and constraints -- that have shaped the evolution of kin recognition in birds?
  • How have avian brood parasites and their hosts co-evolved? Are these evolutionary dynamics similar across independent origins of brood parasitism?