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Institut de
Recherche sur la
Biologie de l'
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CNRS Research Scientist
Tél : 02 47 367 372

Technical skills:

 For more detailed information:

Research theme:

Social life is a widespread phenomenon in nature and is commonly considered as one of the major evolutionary transitions of life on Earth. The ecological success of group living species is commonly attributed to the important benefits each form of social life provides to the individuals, such as higher efficiency in brood survival, foraging strategies and anti-predator defenses. However, group-living also entails major fitness costs. Such costs typically result from social conflicts between group members over food resources and reproduction, and from highest risks of pathogen infection, as frequent and intimate contacts between individuals are known to facilitate disease transmission and because the close genetic relatedness generally exhibited by group members is likely to make them susceptible to the same pathogens. Hence, the transition from solitary to social life requires the evolution of mechanisms ensuring that the benefits of group living outweigh its associated costs.


My research aims at better understanding the emergence and persistence of social life in insects.


Specifically, I am studying:

- The behavioral processes regulating within-group conflicts.

- How social immunity promotes the emergence and persistence of group-living.

- The bases of recognition systems and chemical communication within and between groups.

- The reciprocal interactions between social/ecological environments and life-history traits expressed by group members.


My main biological model is the European earwig Forficula auricularia. This insect species is particularly interesting to study the early evolution of social life, because adults live in groups in which they show forms of social interactions and females provide non-obligatory forms of care to their offspring. The methods I use mainly involve behavioral experiments, immunity measurements, chemical and microsatellites analyses, statistics (e.g. meta-analyses), field and laboratory experiments.


Image d'illustration

  Family life in the European earwig.

Major publications

(last update 02.2016)

Thesing J, Kramer J, Koch LK and Meunier J (2015) Short-term benefits, but transgenerational costs of maternal loss in an insect with facultative maternal care. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences,282(1817), 20151617


Kölliker M, Boos S, Wong JWY, Röllin L, Stucki D, Raveh S, Wu M and Meunier J (2015) Parent-offspring conflict and the genetic trade-offs shaping parental investment. Nature Communications, 6, 6850.


Meunier J (2015) Social immunity and the evolution of group-living in insects. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B:  Biological Sciences, 370, 20140102.


Wong JWY*, Meunier J*, Lucas C and Kölliker M (2014) Paternal signature in kin recognition cues of a social insect: Concealed in juveniles, revealed in adults. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281: 20141236.  [*Authors contributed equally to the work]


Falk J, Wong JWY, Kölliker M and Meunier J (2014) Sibling cooperation in earwig families provides insights into the early evolution of social life. American Naturalist, 183(4), 547-557. 


Meunier J and Kölliker M (2012) Parental antagonism and parent-offspring co-adaptation interact to shape family life. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 279, 3981-3988


A full and updated list of publication can be found on

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