Aarhus Universitets segl

Welcome to Spiderlab Aarhus University

  • Evolution of Cooperation – Mating System Evolution – Genetic and non-genetic processes of adaptation

Our research group aims to investigate evolutionary ecology and genetics of group living, cooperation and mating systems using spiders as study systems. Additionally, we are interested in understanding the genomic consequences of sociality and inbreeding mating systems, and genetic and non-genetic processes involved in adaptation to different environments.

Our Research:

Our research focuses on the spider genus Stegodyphus (family Eresidae) that contains both social and subsocial (temporarily social) species, which makes it ideal for comparative studies. The social spiders are unique among group living animals, as the transition to permanent sociality is associated with regular inbreeding and highly female-biased sex ratios. Additionally, social spiders cooperate in all colony tasks and show allomaternal brood care including self-sacrifice. We perform field work in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, India and Israel.
Our research aims to understand 1) the ecology and evolution of sociality, 2) reproductive division of labour and conflict resolution, and 3) population genomic consequences of inbreeding 4) non-genetic processes involved in adaptation.

Collaboration Projects:

Additionally, we study the evolution of polyandrous mating systems and the evolution of alternative male mating strategies in the nursery web spider Pisaura mirabilis. This work is done in collaboration with Ass. Prof. Cristina Tuni, University of Munich, and field work in Germany, Italy, UK and Denmark.

  1. Ecological genomics of inbreeding: comparative studies of inbreeding mating systems in non-model animal populations (funded by the European Research Council)
  2. Epigenomics of phenotypic variation (funded by the Danish Council for Independent research)
  3. Discovery and characterization of novel antimicrobials (funded by Novo Nordisk Foundation’s Interdisciplinary Synergy Programme)
  4. Evolution of social behaviour: social structure and task differentiation
  5. The role of sexual selection on alternative male mating strategies (funded by the Danish Council for Independent research)

Recent Publications





Collaborators ​

  • ​​Prof. Tom Tregenza - Department of Bioscience, University of Exeter
  • Prof. Gabriele Uhl - Zoological Institute and Museum of General and Systematic Zoology - University of Greifswald (Germany)
  • Prof. Jutta Schneider - Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Natural Sciences, Department of Biology - University of Hamburg (Germany)
  • Prof. Yael Lubin - Desert Ecology Department - Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba (Israel)
  • Prof. Mikkel Schierup - Bioinformatic Research Centre - Aarhus University (Denmark)
  • Prof. Andreas Schramm - Section for Microbiology - Aarhus University (Denmark)
  • Prof. Thomas Vosegaard - Center for Insoluble Protein Structure (inSPIN), Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO) and Department of Chemistry - Aarhus University (Denmark) 
  • Prof. Michael Lalk - Department of Cellular Biochemistry and Metabolomics - Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University Greifswald (Germany)
  • Prof. Judith Mank - Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment - University College London (UK)
  • Dr. Tharina Bird - Natural History Museum of Windhoek (Namibia) and BIUST: Botswana International University of Science and Technology (Botswana)
  • Dr. Casper Nyamukondiwa - Department of Biological Science and Biotechnology - BIUST: Botswana International University of Science and Technology (Botswana)
  • Dr. Michelle Greve - Department of Plant Science - University of Pretoria (South Africa)
  • Dr. Lena Grinsted - School of Biological Science - Royal Holloway University of London (UK)
  • Prof. Philip Francis Thomsen - Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University
  • Prof. Marjo Saastamoinen -  Research Centre for Ecological Change, Helsinki Institute of Life Science, Helsinki University (Finland)   
  • Dr. Greta Bocedi - The School of Biological Sciences University of Aberdeen (UK)

Head of Lab:

Trine Bilde

Professor, Centerleder Institut for Biologi - Genetik, økologi og evolution