Hudson Kern Reeve



I am interested in studying the evolution of the balance in cooperation and conflict within animal societies 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 societies.

Research Focus

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.


  • Hare, D. and Reeve, H.K. (in press) Value of species and the evolution of conservation ethics. Royal Society Open Science.
  • Reeve, H.K., Hare, D., Yang, I., De’Aquila, M, and Swingle, B. Kin-selected avoidance of competition in bacteria. Science Advances (submitted).
  • Sheehan, M., Reeve, H. K. Learning generates positive co-evolutionary feedback between recognition allele diversity and cooperation..  Integrative and Comparative Biology. 57(3):580-588
  • Barker, J.L., Bronstein, J.L., Friesen, M.L., Jones, E.I., Reeve, H.K., Zink, A.G., and Frederickson, M.E. (in press) Synthesizing perspectives on the evolution of cooperation within and between species. 2016. Evolution. doi: 10.1111/evo.13174. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Hare, D. , Reeve, H.K., and Blossey, B.  2016. Evolutionary routes to stable ownership. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 29 (6), 1178-1188.
  • Baran, N. M., Reeve, H. K. (2015). Coevolution of Parental Care, Parasitic, and Resistance Efforts in Facultative Parasitism. American Naturalist, 185 (5), 594-609.
  • Montovan, K. J., Couchoux, C., Jones, L. E., Reeve, H. K., van Nouhuys, S. (2015). The puzzle of partial resource use by a parasitoid wasp. American Naturalist, 185 (4), 538-550.

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