Livia Gerber

Research Interests

I am broadly interested in evolutionary biology, mainly in sexual selection and evolutionary explanations for behavioural traits. Since molecular techniques such as genotyping are broadly available, evolutionary biologists finally possess a powerful tool in order to study evolutionary mechanisms. Primates are a feasible group to study the evolution of social organisations as they exhibit not only an extremely large variation of social life but are well-studied and furthermore, can be recognised individually in the wild. In my masters project I’m working on socio-genetics on long-tailed macaques. I’m investigating not only what can be undertaken on an individual level in order to maximise fitness but as well what influence relatives have. Socio-genetics are an amazing field to work in, as genetic studies can reveal surprising facts about primate lives one would not have thought of from behavioural studies alone. In the end, insights gained from primate studies can help us to understand our own evolution better.

Academic Record

MSc in Anthropology, University of Zurich, Switzerland 2011

MSc in Anthropology, University of Zurich, Switzerland 2011

PhD candidate, University of Zurich, Switzerland 2014 - ongoing

Researcher Bio

Male alliances in bottlenose dolphins are among the highest complex social structures found outside humans and provide a rare example of male cooperation. However, little is known about their formation and how males choose their partners. Cooperative behaviours are often favoured among kin as it allows the actors to benefit from inclusive fitness benefits. Whether kin selection explains alliance formation could not be answered reliably using classic genetic markers.
For my PhD project I will apply a genomics approach which allows us to investigate whether alliance formation is based on relatedness or other factors such as familiarity.


Gerber L., Krutzen M., de Ruiter J.R., van Schaik C.P., van Noordwijk M.A.: Post-dispersal nepotism in male long-tailed macaques (Macaca fasicularis). In review (2014)

Gosselin M.C., Neufeld E., Moser H., Huber E., Farcito S., Gerber L., Jedensjo M., Hilber I., Di Gennaro F., Lloyd B., Cherubini E., Szczerba D., Kainz W., Kuster N.: Development of a new generation of high-resolution anatomical models for medical device evaluation: the Virtual Population 3.0. Physics in Medicine and Biology (2014).

Research Groups and Affiliations

Evolutionary Genetics Group
Anthropological Institute and Museum, University of Zürich

Dolphin Alliance Project

Dolphin Innovation Project