Meunier, Joël Dr.

Dr. Joël Meunier                                                        
Group Leader

Curriculum Vitae

Since 2012                Assistant professor/group leader, University of Mainz, Germany  
2009-12                Post-Doc, University of Basel, Switzerland
2005-09 PhD Thesis, University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Topic “Conflict resolution and evolution of social structures in insect societies"
2004-05 Master (“Master 2 Rech”), University Paris VI and University Paris XI, France
2000-04 Bachelor (“DEUG”, “Licence”, “Maitrise”), University Montpellier II, France

                .           .          

Research Interests

Social life is a widespread phenomenon in nature that is commonly considered as one of the major evolutionary transitions of life on Earth. Across taxa and species, social life exhibits different degrees of complexity, ranging from short-term to permanent social interactions, and from mutual attraction between individuals to cohesive societies with reproductive division of labor.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 (1) social conflicts between group members over food resources and reproduction, and from (2) 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 by studying (1) the behavioral processes regulating within-group conflicts, (2) how (social) immunity promotes the emergence and persistence of group-living, (3) the bases of recognition systems and chemical communication within and between groups, and finally (4) 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 advanced forms of 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 (Meta-analyses), Field and laboratory experiments.        





An updated list of publication can be found on

Kramer J and Meunier J. (in press) Maternal condition determines offspring behavior towards family members in the European earwig. Behavioral Ecology. In press.

Thesing J*, Kramer J*, Koch LK and Meunier J (in press) Short-term benefits, but transgenerational costs of maternal loss in an insect with facultative maternal care. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. In press. (* Authors contributed equally to the work)

Kramer J, Thesing J and Meunier J (2015) Negative association between parental care and sibling cooperation in earwigs: a new perspective on the early evolution of family life? Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 28, 1299–1308.

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.

Kohlmeier P, Dreyer H and Meunier J (2015) PO-CALC: A novel tool to correct common inconsistencies in the measurement of phenoloxidase activities. Journal of Insect Physiology, 75:80-84.

Diehl J, Körner M, Pietch M and Meunier J (2015). Feces production as a form of social immunity in an insect with facultative maternal care. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 15, 40.

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

Sandrin L, Meunier J, Raveh S, Walser JC and Kölliker M (2015) Multiple paternity and mating group size in the European earwig, Forficula auricularia. Ecological Entomology, 40(2), 159-166.

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 of London B: biological Sciences, 281: 20141236. *Authors contributed equally to the work.

Koch L K and Meunier J (2014) Mother and offspring fitness in an insect with maternal care: phenotypic trade-offs between egg number, egg mass and egg care. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 14(1), 125.

Weiss C, Kramer J, Holländer K and Meunier J (2014) Influences of relatedness, food deprivation and sex on adult behaviors in the group-living insect Forficula auricularia. Ethology, 120: 923-932.

Boos S, Meunier J, Pichon S and Kölliker M (2014). Maternal care provides anti-fungal protection to eggs in the European earwig. Behavioral Ecology, 25(4): 754-761.

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. (2013) Inbreeding depression in an insect with maternal care: influences of family interactions, life-stage and offspring sex. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 26(10): 2209-20.

Wong JWY, Meunier J and Kölliker M. (2013) The evolution of parental care in insects: The roles of ecology, life history and the social environment. Ecological entomology, 38(2), 123-137.

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

Meunier J and Kölliker M (2012) When it is costly to have a caring mother: food limitation erases the benefits of parental care in earwigs. Biology letters 8(4), 547-550

Meunier J, Wong JWY, Gomez Y, Kuttler S, Röllin L, Stucki D and Kölliker M (2012) One clutch or two clutches? Fitness correlates of coexisting alternative female life-histories in the European earwig. Evolutionary Ecology 26(3), 669-682

Mas F, Meunier J and Kölliker M (2011) A new function of hydrocarbons in insect communication: maternal care and offspring signalling in the European earwig. Chimia 65:9, 744

Meunier J (2011) Can multiple pathways mediate the influence of queen number on nestmate discrimination in ants? Communicative and Integrative Biology 4(5), 609-611

Meunier J, Delémont O and Lucas C (2011) Recognition in ants: social origin matters. PLoS ONE 6(5): e19347

Meunier J*, Fingueiredo Pinto S*, Burri R and Roulin A (2011) Eumelanin-based coloration and fitness parameters in birds: a meta-analysis. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 65, 559-567 *Authors contributed equally to the work

Meunier J, Reber A and Chapuisat M (2011) Queen acceptance in a socially polymorphic ant. Animal Behaviour 81, 163-168

Masclaux F, Hammond R, Meunier J, Gouhier-Darimont C, Keller L and Reymond P (2010) Competitive ability not kinship affects growth of Arabidopsis thaliana accessions. New Phytologist 185(1), 322-331

Meunier J, Delaplace L and Chapuisat M (2010) Reproductive conflicts and egg discrimination in a socially polymorphic ant. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 64(10), 1655-1663

Reber A, Meunier J and Chapuisat M (2010) Flexible colony founding strategies in a socially polymorphic ant. Animal Behaviour 78, 467-472

Meunier J and Chapuisat M (2009) The determinants of queen size in a socially polymorphic ant. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 22, 1906-1913

Holzer B, Meunier J, Keller L and Chapuisat M (2008) Stay or drift? Queen acceptance in the ant Formica paralugubris. Insectes sociaux 55, 392-396

Meunier J, West SA and Chapuisat M (2008) Split sex ratios in the social Hymenoptera: a meta-analysis. Behavioral Ecology 19, 382-390