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Cunha Saraiva, Filipa, MSc

Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology
Department of Interdisciplinary Life Sciences
University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna
Savoyenstr. 1a
A-1160 Vienna
T +43 (1) 250 77 7419

T +43 (1) 250 77 94 7419
E-Mail to Filipa Saraiva


The ability to behave in accordance to the environmental stimuli, both ecological and social, fascinates me, especially the mechanistic behind those behaviours. Cooperative behaviour is a complex social behaviour and little is known about its endocrinological basis. I’m exploring the ecological and hormonal background that could elicit cooperative behaviour in a non-cooperative species using as my model organism Neolamprologus caudopunctatus and Neolamprologus pulcher.

  • Social behaviour & Cooperation
  • Behavioural Endocrinology
  • Neuroethology
  • Evolutionary biology
  • Animal welfare

Current Projects

FWF-Project: Ecological constraints of fish breeding systems. 01.02.2015-31.01.2018 (grant #P27461)

Inducing cooperative breeding: ecological constraints and flexibility of fish breeding systems: The widespread occurrence of animals caring for unrelated young has challenged evolutionary biologists for decades. Cooperative breeding, in which subordinate, mature individuals delay their own reproduction to care for the offspring of others, is one of the most extreme examples of alloparental care. A major explanation of why helpers care for the offspring of others is the ecological constraints model which proposes that helping behavior is an adaption to shortages of resources such as breeding territories and mates.

The ecological constraints approach has also been used to explain polygyny, another breeding strategy enigma in species where both sexes provide parental care. The question is why some females choose to share a male’s parental effort with other females when they could receive the full effort of one male. The ability of males to monopolize the resources needed to attract multiple females should be determined by the distribution of those resources.

Although the ecological constraints approach has been useful in studying cooperative breeding and polygyny, we continue to lack a comprehensive framework for explaining these phenomena. In this project we propose to manipulate ecological factors and hormones to attempt to induce cooperative breeding and polygyny in a non-cooperative, monogamous fish. We will perform parallel experiments with a congeneric, sympatric species that is both cooperative and polygynous. Our experiments are designed to sequentially determine key factors that permit or constrain the two breeding systems. If we are able to induce cooperative breeding, our experiments may produce the strongest evidence yet of the influence of particular ecological constraints on breeding systems.

Curriculum vitae


PhD program, Behavioral Biology

Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien at the Konrad-Lorenz-Institut für Vergleichende Verhaltensforschung


Scientific Advisor

Fair Fish International, Zurich, Switzerland


M.Sc., Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour

University of Bern, Switzerland


B.Sc., Biology

University of Coimbra, Portugal