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Hudson Kern Reeve


Seeley G Mudd Bio Science Wing, Room W309


I am interested in studying the evolution of the balance in cooperation and conflict within animal socieites and groups of interacting plants. My goal is to elucidate, through both mathematical theory and quantitative test, the general principles governing cooperation and conflict among animals, among plants, among cells within an organism, and among genes within a genome. Such principles will point the way to effective strategies of conflict minimization within socieites.




  • Neurobiology and Behavior

Graduate Fields

  • Cognitive Science
  • Computational Biology
  • Neurobiology and Behavior


My principal research goal is to develop and test biologically realistic models of the evolution of cooperation and conflict in animal societies. Currently, I am investigating two classes of models that bear on the evolution of cooperation. First, I am investigating how the genetic system can affect the long-term evolution of cooperation by influencing the balance between selection and random genetic drift as forces acting upon rare cooperation-promoting genes. For example, the propensity for eusociality to evolve in ants, bees, and wasps can be explained by the tendency of their haplo-diploid genetic system to protect rare genes for female worker care from loss through genetic drift. A second major class of models involves analyses of the factors that affect the evolutionarily stable partitioning of reproduction among potential breeders in an animal society. These models assume that the dominant member(s) of the society control reproduction by the subordinate(s). If the dominant benefits from retention of the subordinate, it may pay the dominant to yield some reproduction to subordinates as inducements for these subordinates to remain in the society and cooperate peacefully rather than to leave or fight for exclusive control of the group's resources. Inducements that prevent subordinates from leaving the group are called staying incentives; inducements that prevent subordinates from fighting to the death for complete reproductive control are called peace incentives. Theoretically, the magnitudes of the peace and staying incentives yielded by dominants will direct the evolution of other key societal attributes, such as the frequency and intensity of dominance interactions and the sharpness of the division of labor within the social group. I am currently testing these theoretical predictions by examining associations between the latter colony attributes and the asymmetries in reproduction (determined by DNA fingerprinting) among the members of wasp societies. The ultimate aim of these studies is to develop and refine an empirically testable general theory of the colony-level consequences of reproductive asymmetries within animal societies.



  • Sexual dimorphism in body size and the origin of sex-determination systems. Adkins-Regan E, Reeve HK. Am Nat. 2014 Apr;183(4):519-36. doi: 10.1086/675303. Epub 2014 Feb 26. PMID: 24642496
  • Partial ovary development is widespread in honey bees and comparable to other eusocial bees and wasps. Smith ML, Mattila HR, Reeve HK. Commun Integr Biol. 2013 Sep 1;6(5):e25004. doi: 10.4161/cib.25004. Epub 2013 May 21. PMID: 24255737
  • Lower limb kinematic variability in dancers performing drop landings onto floor surfaces with varied mechanical properties. Reeve HK, Hopper LS, Elliott BC, Ackland TR. Hum Mov Sci. 2013 Aug;32(4):866-74. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2013.07.009. Epub 2013 Aug 29. PMID:23993251
  • Can evolutionary design of social networks make it easier to be 'green'? Dickinson JL, Crain RL, Reeve HK, Schuldt JP. Trends Ecol Evol. 2013 Sep;28(9):561-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2013.05.011. Epub 2013 Jun 18. Review. PMID: 23787089
  • Competition over personal resources favors contribution to shared resources in human groups. Barker JL, Barclay P, Reeve HK. PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58826. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058826. Epub 2013 Mar 8. PMID: 23520535
  • Promiscuous honey bee queens increase colony productivity by suppressing worker selfishness. Mattila HR, Reeve HK, Smith ML. Curr Biol. 2012 Nov 6;22(21):2027-31. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.08.021. Epub 2012 Sep 27. PMID: 23022065
  • Parental care, cost of reproduction and reproductive skew: a general costly young model. Shen SF, Reeve HK, Vehrencamp SL. J Theor Biol. 2011 Sep 7;284(1):24-31. doi: 0.1016/j.jtbi.2011.05.028. Epub 2011 Jun 17. PMID: 21703276
  • Inclusive fitness theory and eusociality. Abbot P, Abe J, Alcock J, Alizon S, Alpedrinha JA, Andersson M, Andre JB, van Baalen M, Balloux F, Balshine S, Barton N, Beukeboom LW, Biernaskie JM, Bilde T, Borgia G, Breed M, Brown S, Bshary R, Buckling A, Burley NT, Burton-Chellew MN, Cant MA, Chapuisat M, Charnov EL, Clutton-Brock T, Cockburn A, Cole BJ, Colegrave N, Cosmides L, Couzin ID, Coyne JA, Creel S, Crespi B, Curry RL, Dall SR, Day T, Dickinson JL, Dugatkin LA, El Mouden C, Emlen ST, Evans J, Ferriere R, Field J, Foitzik S, Foster K, Foster WA, Fox CW, Gadau J, Gandon S, Gardner A, Gardner MG, Getty T, Goodisman MA, Grafen A, Grosberg R, Grozinger CM, Gouyon PH, Gwynne D, Harvey PH, Hatchwell BJ, Heinze J, Helantera H, Helms KR, Hill K, Jiricny N, Johnstone RA, Kacelnik A, Kiers ET, Kokko H, Komdeur J, Korb J, Kronauer D, Kümmerli R, Lehmann L, Linksvayer TA, Lion S, Lyon B, Marshall JA, McElreath R, Michalakis Y, Michod RE, Mock D, Monnin T, Montgomerie R, Moore AJ, Mueller UG, Noë R, Okasha S, Pamilo P, Parker GA, Pedersen JS, Pen I, Pfennig D, Queller DC, Rankin DJ, Reece SE, Reeve HK, Reuter M, Roberts G, Robson SK, Roze D, Rousset F, Rueppell O, Sachs JL, Santorelli L, Schmid-Hempel P, Schwarz MP, Scott-Phillips T, Shellmann-Sherman J, Sherman PW, Shuker DM, Smith J, Spagna JC, Strassmann B, Suarez AV, Sundström L, Taborsky M, Taylor P, Thompson G, Tooby J, Tsutsui ND, Tsuji K, Turillazzi S, Ubeda F, Vargo EL, Voelkl B, Wenseleers T, West SA, West-Eberhard MJ, Westneat DF, Wiernasz DC, Wild G, Wrangham R, Young AJ, Zeh DW, Zeh JA, Zink A.Nature. 2011 Mar 24;471(7339):E1-4; author reply E9-10. doi: 10.1038/nature09831. PMID: 21430721
  • Reeve, H. K. and Sherman, P. W. S.  Why measuring reproductive success in current populations is valuable: Moving forward by going backward.  Current Issues in Evolutionary Psychology. (2007)
  • Reeve, H. K.  Reproductive Skew and Unifying Models of Social Evolution.  Princeton University Press,  Princeton, New Jersey. (2007)
  • Reeve, H. K. and B. Hölldobler. (2007). The emergence of a superorganism through intergroup competition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; 104(23): 9736 - 9740.
  • Reeve, H. K. and Shen, Sheng-Feng.  (2006).  The bordered tug-of-war: a missing model in reproductive skew theory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  103:8430-8434.
  • Cant, M. A., English, S., Reeve, H. K. & Field, J. P. (2006). Escalated conflict in a social hierarchy. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 273: 2977-2984.
  • Flaxman, S. M. and Reeve, H. K.  (2006). Putting competition strategies into ideal free distribution models: habitat selection as a tug-of-war.  Journal of Theoretical Biology.  243: 587-593. 
  • Rowell, J. T., Ellner, S. P., and Reeve, H. K.  Why animals lie:  how dishonesty and belief can coexist in a signaling system.  American Naturalist.  168: E180-E204.
  • Reeve, H. K. and S.-F. Shen. (2006). A missing model in reproductive skew theory: the bordered tug-of-war. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103: 8429-8433.
  • Zink, A. and Reeve, H. K. (2005). Dynamic models of reproductive skew.  Behavioral Ecology. 16:880-888.  2005.Hill, S. E. and Reeve, H. K.  Low fertility in humans as the result of snowballing resource games. Behavioral Ecology.  16:398-402. 
  • Hill, S. E. and Reeve, H. K. (2004). Mating games: the evolution of human mating transactions. Behavioral Ecology 15:748-756. 
  • Nonacs, P., Reeve, H. K., Starks, P. T. (2004). Optimal reproductive-skew models fail to predict aggression in social wasps. Proceedings-of-the-Royal-Society-Biological-Sciences-Series-B (London) 27:811-817.
  • Reeve, H. K. and Jeanne, R. L. (2003). From individual control to majority rule: Extending transactional models of reproductive skew in animal societies. Proceedings-of-the-Royal-Society-Biological-Sciences-Series-B (London) 270: 1041-1045.
  • Reeve, H. K. and Pfennig, D. W.  (2003). Genetic biases for showy males: Are some genetic systems especially conducive to sexual selection? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100: 1089-1094.
  • Mehdiabadi, N. J., Reeve, H. K., Mueller, U. G.  (2003). Queens versus workers: Sex-ratio conflict in eusocial Hymenoptera.  Trends-in-Ecology-and-Evolution 18: 88-93. 
  • Nielsen, R., Tarpy, D. R., Reeve, H. K.  (2003). Estimating effective paternity number in social insects and the effective number of alleles in a population.  Molecular Ecology 12: 3157-3164.
  • Tibbetts, E. A., Reeve, H. K. (2003). Benefits of foundress associations in the paper wasp Polistes dominulus: Increased productivity and survival, but no assurance of fitness returns.  Behavioral Ecology 14: 510-514. 
  • Uriarte, M. and Reeve, H. K. (2003). Matchmaking and species marriage: A game-theory model of community assembly Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100: 1787-1792.
  • Reeve, H. K. and Pfennig, D. W. (2003). Genetic biases for showy males: Are some genetic systems especially conducive to sexual selection? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 100: 1089-1094.
  • Iyengar, V. K., Reeve, H. K., and Eisner, T. (2002). Paternal inheritance of a female moth's mating preference. Nature 419: 830-832.
  • Reeve, H. K. (2002). In search of unifying models in sociobiology: help from social wasps. In: Model Systems in Behavioral Ecology (L. Dugatkin, ed.), Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.