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Roger Schürch

Assistant Professor
  • Social Insect Ecology/Evolution
309 Latham Hall

I am a behavioral ecologist broadly interested in social evolution, with an emphasis on cooperative and communicative behaviors in insects. I am generally interested in the interactions of an individual within its society. Specifically, I ask how and why do individuals, even closely related individuals within a social group, display consistent differences in behavior (i.e., personalities or behavioral types) within the two contexts of cooperation and communication.


My research will use empirical and quantitative analyses as well as theoretical approaches to investigate how complex systems like insect societies evolve to respond adaptively to rapidly changing environments, from the social environment to the changing climate. I am also interested in the use of statistical predictive models, spatial statistics, and R programming and how they can be implemented into hypothesis-driven, experimental research.

For more information, please see my webpage:


1998-2002 BS, University of Bern, Switzerland
2002-2003 MS, Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern, Switzerland
2005-2008 Ph.D., Institute of Ecology and Evolution, University of Bern, Switzerland "Individual variation in Life-History and Behavioural Type in the Highly Social Cichlid Neolamprologus pulcher"


2009-2010 Postdoctoral researcher, Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology, Ohio State University, USA
2010-2011 Research assistant, Institut de Biologie, Eco-Ethologie, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland
2011-2014 Postdoctoral Researcher, School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
2014-2016  Senior statistician, Clinical Trials Unit, University of Bern, Switzerland
2017-2018 Research Assistant Professor, Department of Entomology, Virgina Tech

See for up-to-date information on teaching.

The only non-human animals known to live in large-scale complex societies are the eusocial insects such as bees, wasps, ants and termites. These insects are of tremendous economic importance, as bees produce honey and pollinate crops, while some ants, wasps and termites are major pests.


We study behavioral, ecological and evolutionary questions in insects along the social gradient from solitary to eusocial to better understand how animal societies work, and how they efficiently cooperate. We think that understanding social evolution and cooperation in animal societies is relevant from ecological, evolutionary and economic perspectives.


Visit Dr. Schürch’s web page for a project overviews and the lab’s blog for updates on the work that is being done in his lab.


Please visit for the full publication list.

Selected publications

Couvillon, M. J., Al Toufailia, H., Butterfield, T. M., Schrell F., Ratnieks, F. L. W. & Schürch, R. (2015) Buzzing bees: caffeinated forage tricks honey bees into increasing foraging and recruitment behaviors. Current Biol., 25 (21) 2815-2818.

Schürch, R. & Grüter C. (2014) Dancing bees improve colony success via long-term benefits. PloS ONE 9:e104660.

Couvillon, M. J., Schürch, R. & Ratnieks, F. L. W. (2014). Dancing bees communicate a foraging preference for rural lands in High Level Agri-Environment Schemes. Current Biol.

Schürch, R., Couvillon, M. J., Burns, D., Tasman, K., Waxman, D. & Ratnieks, F. L. W. (2013). Incorporating variability in honey bee waggle dance decoding improves the mapping of communicated resource locations. J. Comp. Physiol. A. 199:1143-1152.

Schürch, R., Rothenberger, S. & Heg, D. (2010) The building-up of social relationships: behavioural types, social networks and cooperative breeding in a cichlid. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences 365:4089-4098.

Schürch, R. & Heg, D. (2010) Life history and behavioral type in the highly social cichlid Neolamprologus pulcher. Behavioral Ecology 21:588-598.