Dr. Sjouke Kingma is interested in why animals live in groups and whether and how the social environment determines individuals' behaviour and physiology and their ultimate success in survival and reproduction. His research is focussed mainly on birds (speckled mousebirds in eSwatini / Swaziland, purple-crowned fairy-wrens in Australia, and Seychelles warblers in the Seychelles), but also includes comparative study and a population study on Burying beetles in the Netherlands.
Kin-selected altruism is well documented, but can direct benefits provide an alternative adaptive explanation for cooperation and sociality? Beginning in his PhD (at the Max Planck Iinstitute, Germany) and continuing into Rubicon (University of East Anglia, U.K.) and Veni personal-career fellowships (at University of Groningen, Netherlands), he has focussed on answering this question. To do so, he developed a research programme to pursue the mechanistic, ecological and evolutionary processes underlying group living and cooperation between non-relatives. His work integrates conceptual and comparative work with field observations, molecular genetic analyses and experiments, working on several different social species.
His current work is centered around establishing how group membership is regulated and how conflict among individuals is resolved.