Dustin R. Rubenstein

Dustin R. Rubenstein
Columbia University | CU · Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology

PhD

About

111
Publications
23,507
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5,411
Citations
Additional affiliations
July 2009 - December 2012
Columbia University
July 2006 - June 2009
University of California, Berkeley
August 2000 - July 2006
Cornell University

Publications

Publications (111)
Article
Full-text available
Patterns of biodiversity are often explained by ecological processes, where traits that promote novel ways of interacting with the environment (key innovations) play a fundamental role in promoting diversification. However, sexual selection and social competition can also promote diversification through rapid evolution of ornamental traits. Because...
Article
Full-text available
Male animals are typically more elaborately ornamented than females. Classic sexual selection theory notes that because sperm are cheaper to produce than eggs, and because males generally compete more intensely for reproductive opportunities and invest less in parental care than females, males can obtain greater fitness benefits from mating multipl...
Article
Many vertebrates breed in cooperative groups in which more than two members provide care for young. Studies of cooperative breeding behavior within species have long highlighted the importance of environmental factors in mediating the paradox of why some such individuals delay independent breeding to help raise the offspring of others. In contrast,...
Article
Although eusocial animals often achieve ecological dominance in the ecosystems where they occur, many populations are unstable, resulting in local extinction. Both patterns may be linked to the characteristic demography of eusocial species—high reproductive skew and reproductive division of labor support stable effective population sizes that make...
Article
Cooperatively breeding vertebrates are common in unpredictable environments where the costs and benefits of providing offspring care fluctuate temporally. To balance these fitness outcomes, individuals of cooperatively breeding species often exhibit behavioural plasticity according to environmental conditions. Although individual variation in coope...
Article
Male–male competition after mating (sperm competition) favours adaptations in male traits, such as elevated sperm numbers facilitated by larger testes. Ultimately, patterns of female distribution will affect the strength of sperm competition by dictating the extent to which males are able to prevent female remating. Despite this, our understanding...
Article
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Biologists have long known that animal population dynamics are regulated by a combination of bottom-up (resource availability) and top-down forces (predation). Yet, economists have argued that human population dynamics can also be influenced by intraspecific cooperation. Despite awareness of the role of interspecific cooperation (mutualism) in infl...
Preprint
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Species as diverse as humans and ants are among the most abundant organisms on Earth, partly because of their ability to form cooperative societies ¹⁻³ . Yet, animals form groups for many reasons 4,5 , and how these differences affect their ‘social conquests’ ² remains unknown. Here we use a theoretical model to demonstrate that the different fitne...
Article
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Assessing the impact of environmental fluctuations on species coexistence is critical for understanding biodiversity loss and the ecological impacts of climate change. Yet determining how properties like the intensity, frequency or duration of environmental fluctuations influence species coexistence remains challenging, presumably because previous...
Article
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Significance Despite great progress in uncovering the genomic underpinnings of advanced forms of social organization like eusociality, much less is known about how eusociality feeds back to drive genome evolution. Using snapping shrimps that exhibit multiple origins of eusociality and extreme interspecific variation in genome size, we show that eus...
Article
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Although dominance hierarchies occur in most societies, our understanding of how these power structures influence individual investment in cooperative and competitive behaviours remains elusive. Both conflict and cooperation in animal societies are often environmentally regulated, yet how individuals alter their cooperative and competitive investme...
Article
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Adaptive responses to ecological uncertainty may affect the dynamics of interspecific interactions and shape the course of evolution within symbioses. Obligate avian brood parasites provide a particularly tractable system for understanding how uncertainty, driven by environmental variability and symbiont phenology, influences the evolution of speci...
Article
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Understanding how climate-mediated biotic interactions shape thermal niche width is critical in an era of global change. Yet, most previous work on thermal niches has ignored detailed mechanistic information about the relationship between temperature and organismal performance, which can be described by a thermal performance curve. Here, we develop...
Article
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Understanding how climate-mediated biotic interactions shape thermal niche width is critical in an era of global change. Yet, most previous work on thermal niches has ignored detailed mechanistic information about the relationship between temperature and organismal performance, which can be described by a thermal performance curve. Here, we develop...
Article
Full-text available
Both benign and harsh environments promote the evolution of sociality. This paradox—societies occur in environments of such contrasting quality—may be explained by the different types of benefits that individuals receive from grouping: resource defense benefits that derive from group-defended critical resources versus collective action benefits tha...
Article
Bet-hedging-a strategy that reduces fitness variance at the expense of lower mean fitness among different generations-is thought to evolve as a biological adaptation to environmental unpredictability. Despite widespread use of the bet-hedging concept, most theoretical treatments have largely made unrealistic demographic assumptions, such as non-ove...
Article
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Explaining colour variation among animals at broad geographic scales remains challenging. Here we demonstrate how deep learning—a form of artificial intelligence—can reveal subtle but robust patterns of colour feature variation along an ecological gradient, as well as help identify the underlying mechanisms generating this biogeographic pattern. Us...
Article
In cooperatively breeding species, social conflict is typically assumed to underlie destructive behaviours like infanticide. However, an untested alternative hypothesis in birds is that infanticide in the form of egg tossing may simply be a parental response to partial nest predation representing a life-history trade-off. We examined egg tossing be...
Article
Cooperatively breeding animals occur in virtually every ecosystem on earth. Comparative and biogeographic studies suggest that both benign and harsh-as well as stable and fluctuating-environments can favor the evolution of cooperative breeding behavior. The fact that cooperative societies occur in environments of such contrasting quality creates a...
Article
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The cost of parental care has long been thought to favor the evolution of cooperative breeding, because breeders can provide reduced parental care when aided by alloparents. Oxidative stress—the imbalance between reactive oxygen species and neutralizing antioxidants—has been proposed to mediate the cost of parental care, though results from empiric...
Preprint
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Although interspecific competition has long been recognized as a major driver of trait divergence and adaptive evolution1-3, relatively little effort has focused on how it influences the evolution of intraspecific cooperation4-6. Here we identify the mechanism by which the perceived pressure of interspecific competition influences the transition fr...
Article
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Although cooperatively breeding vertebrates occur disproportionately in unpredictable environments, the underlying mechanism shaping this biogeographic pattern remains unclear. Cooperative breeding may buffer against harsh conditions (hard life hypothesis), or additionally allow for sustained breeding under benign conditions (temporal variability h...
Data
ESM 1 - GuindreParker&Rubenstein - The number of alloparents at a nest is independent of group size
Data
ESM 2 - GuindreParker&Rubenstein - Estimating the number of alloparents by correcting for observation length
Data
ESM 3 - GuindreParker&Rubenstein - Results of extra GLMMs presented within the article
Article
The steroid hormone testosterone not only plays an important role in gamete production, but also influences social and aggressive behavior. Testosterone varies seasonally, peaking when competition for mates is high and declining during parental care. Surprisingly, little is known about how testosterone mediates social conflict and parental care beh...
Article
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Evidence from insects and vertebrates suggests that cooperation may have enabled species to expand their niches, becoming ecological generalists and dominating the ecosystems in which they occur. Consistent with this idea, eusocial species of sponge-dwelling Synalpheus shrimps from Belize are ecological generalists with a broader host breadth and h...
Article
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Nearly all animals interact with members of their own species at some point during their lives. These behavioral interactions range from courtship, mating, and parental care to the complex cooperative behavior among related or unrelated individuals in group-living species. A number of theoretical models have attempted to explain how cooperation can...
Article
Molecular markers are powerful tools for studying patterns of relatedness and parentage within populations and for making inferences about social evolution. However, the development of molecular markers for simultaneous study of multiple species presents challenges, particularly when species exhibit genome duplication or polyploidy. We developed mi...
Article
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Ecology is a fundamental driving force for the evolutionary transition from solitary living to breeding cooperatively in groups. However, the fact that both benign and harsh, as well as stable and fluctuating, environments can favour the evolution of cooperative breeding behaviour constitutes a paradox of environmental quality and sociality. Here,...
Article
Animal social organization varies from complex societies where reproduction is dominated by a single individual (eusociality) to those where reproduction is more evenly distributed among group members (communal breeding). Yet, how simple groups transition evolutionarily to more complex societies remains unclear. Competing hypotheses suggest that eu...
Article
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Animals living in harsh environments, where temperatures are hot and rainfall is unpredictable, are more likely to breed in cooperative groups. As a result, harsh environmental conditions have been accepted as a key factor explaining the evolution of cooperation. However, this is based on evidence that has not investigated the order of evolutionary...
Book
Darwin famously described special difficulties in explaining social evolution in insects. More than a century later, the evolution of sociality - defined broadly as cooperative group living - remains one of the most intriguing problems in biology. Providing a unique perspective on the study of social evolution, this volume synthesizes the features...
Chapter
Lizards, snakes and amphisbaenians (worm lizards) form a monophyletic group (the squamate reptiles), which contains 9,712 species (Uetz & Hošek, 2015) in 61 families (Wiens, et al., 2012). New species are constantly being described, particularly with the advent of modern molecular systematics and improved access to remote regions. Consequently, thi...
Chapter
Three factors need to be considered when addressing why some species form social groups and others do not: (1) the set of environmental challenges and opportunities that group living and cooperation allow particular species to meet; (2) the life history and other intrinsic features of those organisms relevant to those challenges and opportunities;...
Chapter
Overview Why do animals live in cooperative groups? How do these societies function? These are the types of questions that motivated both of us in graduate school to study the evolutionary causes and consequences of sociality. We became part of a large and diverse group of scientists studying animal social behavior, a group that today spans the bio...
Article
One of the primary ways that organisms cope with environmental change is through regulation of the hypothalamo–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, the neuroendocrine system that controls reactions to stress. Variation in genes regulating the HPA axis – particularly the glucocorticoid receptor – may facilitate adaptation to changing climatic conditions by...
Article
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In most songbirds, both sexes produce calls, or short vocalizations used to coordinate behaviors and maintain social cohesion. In contrast, songs are longer, more elaborate vocalizations typically only produced by males in behavioral contexts shaped by sexual selection operating through female choice. However, both males and females sing in many co...
Article
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Although sexual selection is typically considered the predominant force driving the evolution of ritualized sexual behaviors, natural selection may also play an important and often underappreciated role. The use of green aromatic plants among nesting birds has been interpreted as a component of extended phenotype that evolved either via natural sel...
Article
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Animal societies are typically divided into those in which reproduction within a group is monopolized by a single female versus those in which it is shared among multiple females. It remains controversial, however, whether these two forms of social structure represent distinct evolutionary outcomes or endpoints along a continuum of reproductive opt...
Article
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Although crustaceans vary extensively in genome size, little is known about how genome size may affect the ecology and evolution of species in this diverse group, in part due to the lack of large genome size datasets. Here we investigate interspecific, intraspecific, and intracolony variation in genome size in 39 species of Synalpheus shrimps, repr...
Article
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Colorful plumage plays a prominent role in evolution of birds, influencing communication (sexual/social selection) and crypsis (natural selection). Comparative studies have focused primarily upon these selective pressures, but the mechanisms underlying color production can also be important by constraining the color gamut upon which selection acts....
Article
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Nearly 10 y ago, we (1) critiqued the idea of Pleistocene rewilding (2), a misguided attempt to resurrect bygone ecosystems. Much has happened to the Earth’s biodiversity over the decade since the term “Pleistocene rewilding” was coined, most of it bad. More than half a billion people have been added to the world’s population, and ecosystems contin...
Article
Organisms can adapt to variable environments by using environmental cues to modulate developmental gene expression. In principle, maternal influences can adaptively modulate offspring phenotype when early life and adult environments match, but they may be maladaptive when future environments are not predictable. One of the best studied 'maternal ef...
Article
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Understanding why individuals within altruistic societies forgo reproduction to raise others’ offspring has fascinated scientists since Darwin. Although worker polymorphism is thought to have evolved only in sterile workers, worker subcastes appear to be common among social invertebrates and vertebrates. We asked whether sterility accompanies eusoc...
Article
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Cooperative alliances among kin may not only lead to indirect fitness benefits for group-living species, but can also provide direct benefits through access to mates or higher social rank. However, the immigrant sex in most species loses any potential benefits of living with kin unless immigrants disperse together or recruit relatives into the grou...
Article
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Sexual dimorphism is typically a result of strong sexual selection on male traits used in male-male competition and subsequent female choice. However, in social species where reproduction is monopolized by one or a few individuals in a group, selection on secondary sexual characteristics may be strong in both sexes. Indeed, sexual dimorphism is red...
Article
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Bateman's principle is not only used to explain sex differences in mating behaviour, but also to determine which sex has the greater opportunity for sexual selection. It predicts that the relationship between the number of mates and the number of offspring produced should be stronger for males than for females. Yet, it is unclear whether Bateman's...
Article
The neural and molecular mechanisms underlying social behavior – including their functional significance and evolution – can only be fully understood using data obtained under multiple social, environmental, and physiological conditions. Understanding the complexity of social behavior requires integration across levels of analysis in both laborator...
Article
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In an era of rapid climate change, there is a pressing need to un- derstand how organisms will cope with faster and less predictable variation in environmental conditions. Here we develop a unifying model that predicts evolutionary responses to environmentally driven fluctuating selection and use this theoretical framework to explore the potential...
Article
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Social interactions are central to most animals and have a fundamental impact upon the phenotype of an individual. Social behavior (social interactions among conspecifics) represents a central challenge to the integration of the functional and mechanistic bases of complex behavior. Traditionally, studies of proximate and ultimate elements of social...
Article
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The development of genetic markers has revolutionized molecular studies within and among populations. Although poly-allelic microsatellites are the most commonly used genetic marker for within-population studies of free-living animals, bi-allelic single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, have also emerged as a viable option for use in non-model sys...
Article
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The ability to form complex, cooperative societies may explain why humans and social insects have come to dominate the earth. The shift from being a habitat specialist to a generalist as a result of being cooperative is thought to underlie the ecological dominance by these group-living species, yet this social conquest hypothesis has proven difficu...
Article
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Abstract Conflicts of interest over resources or reproduction among individuals in a social group have long been considered to result in automatic and universal costs to group living. However, exploring how social conflict varies with group size has produced mixed empirical results. Here we develop a model that generates alternative predictions for...
Chapter
Social behavior characterizes the interactions that occur among individuals. These can be aggressive, mutualistic, cooperative, altruistic, and parental. When individuals interact repeatedly, social relationships develop and these can form among strangers, relatives, members of the same or opposite sex, and members of the same or different generati...
Article
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In many complex societies, intricate communication and recognition systems may evolve to help support both direct and indirect benefits of group membership. In cooperatively breeding species where groups typically comprise relatives, both learned and innate vocal signals may serve as reliable cues for kin recognition. Here, we investigated vocal co...
Article
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Quantitative measures of acoustic similarity can reveal patterns of shared vocal behavior in social species. Many methods for computing similarity have been developed, but their performance has not been extensively characterized in noisy environments and with vocalizations characterized by complex frequency modulations. This paper describes methods...
Article
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Sexual selection is proposed to be an important driver of diversification in animal systems, yet previous tests of this hypothesis have produced mixed results and the mechanisms involved remain unclear. Here, we use a novel phylogenetic approach to assess the influence of sexual selection on patterns of evolutionary change during 84 recent speciati...
Article
Elaborate male traits are typically used to attract mates and to compete with other males for mating opportunities. However, similarly ornate secondary sexual characteristics are also found in females in many species and may be used in competition in both sexual and nonsexual contexts. Trait elaboration in females may be particularly important in c...
Article
Although models of co-evolution between brood parasites and their hosts primarily focus upon the cost to hosts in the current reproductive bout, the impact of brood parasitism may carry-over to future reproductive attempts by altering resource allocation. Glucocorticoid stress hormones help mediate resource allocation to reproduction, yet they have...