What We Do

We are interested in understanding (1) the evolution of social life on earth, particularly the causes and consequences of living in complex societies, and (2) how environmental variation influences the evolution of behavioral, physiological and morphological traits. Our research is integrative in nature and combines studies in behavior, ecology and evolution. We combine field studies and collections with laboratory work on genetics, genomics, hormones and physiology in both vertebrates and invertebrates.


Lab Highlights (complete lab news)

Kenya Program featured in the 2012-2103 Columbia College Annual Report.

Kenya Program and former lab members featured in Columbia College Today.

Field expedition to Belize featured in The New York Times’ Scientists at Work Blog

The lab featured in Columbia Magazine.

Field expedition to Kenya featured in The New York Times’ Scientists at Work Blog.

Dustin R. Rubenstein

Associate Professor


Columbia University

Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology

10th Floor Schermerhorn Extension, MC5557

1200 Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY 10027


Tel: 212-854-4881

Fax: 212-854-8188

Lab Tel: 212-854-5330

Email: dr2497[at]columbia.edu


Office: 1112 Schermerhorn Extension

Lab: 851-854 Schermerhorn Extension

Selected Publications (complete publication list)

Hofmann, H.A., A.K. Beery, D.T. Blumstein, I.D. Couzin, R.L. Earley, L.D. Hayes, P.L. Hurd, E.A. Lacey, N.G. Solomon, M. Taborsky, L.J. Young and D.R. Rubenstein. In press. An evolutionary framework for studying mechanisms of social behavior. Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

Sun, S.-J., D.R. Rubenstein, J.-N. Liu, M. Liu, B.-F. Chen, S.-F. Chan, W. Hwang, P.-S. Yang and S.-F. Shen. 2014. Climate-mediated cooperation promotes niche expansion in burying beetles. eLife 3:e02440.

Maia, R., D.R. Rubenstein and M.D. Shawkey. 2013. Key ornamental innovations facilitate diversification in an avian radiation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 110:10687-10692.

Rubenstein, D.R. 2012. Family feuds: social competition and sexual conflict in complex societies. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 367:2304-2313

Rubenstein, D.R. 2011. Spatiotemporal environmental variation, risk aversion and the evolution of cooperative breeding as a bet-hedging strategy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 108:10816-10822.

Jetz, W.* and D.R. Rubenstein*. 2011. Environmental uncertainty and the global biogeography of cooperative breeding in birds. Current Biology 21:72-78.  *contributed equally

Rubenstein, D.R. and I.J. Lovette. 2009. Reproductive skew and selection on female ornamentation in social species. Nature 462:786-789.

Rubenstein, D.R. and I.J. Lovette. 2007. Temporal environmental variability drives the evolution of cooperative breeding in birds. Current Biology 17:1414-1419.

Rubenstein, D.R. 2007. Female extrapair mate choice in a cooperative breeder: trading sex for help and increasing offspring heterozygosity. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 274:1895-1903.

Rubenstein, D.R. 2007. Stress hormones and sociality: integrating social and environmental stressors. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 274:967-975.

Rubenstein, D.R. and K.A. Hobson. 2004. From birds to butterflies: animal movement patterns and stable isotopes. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 19:256-263.

Rubenstein, D.R., et al. 2002. Linking breeding and wintering ranges of a migratory songbird using stable isotopes. Science 295:1062-1065.

Last updated 15 August 2014
© 2002-2014 Dustin Rubenstein

Rubenstein Lab

behavior • ecology • evolution

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