Dr Olli Loukola

Email: o.loukola@qmul.ac.uk
Room 2.16

Research interests

I am a behavioural ecologist and currently interested in social information use in bees. Bees play very important ecological roles in all ecosystems, and several existing studies indicate that social information use indeed occur in that clade too. My research focuses on the information use within and among species and its ecological and evolutionary implications. In particular, I want to understand how social information use affects transmission of behavioural traits. I will establish my own experimental approaches into social information use among bees in the wild (Mason bees) and laboratory (Bumblebees).

Previous research

My recent empirical study on birds (using two competing species, the great tit Parus major and the pied flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca as study objects), have shown that social transmission of behaviours across species can be highly selective in response to observed fitness, plausibly making the phenomenon adaptive. Interspecific selective social information use may lead to dynamic convergence (if behaviours are copied) and divergence (if behaviours are rejected) of niches of coexisting species. This is in sharp contrast to the tenets of species coexistence and competition theory. If the observed mechanism is common in nature, the traditional notions of conditions and consequences of species coexistence may have to be revised. My other experiment on birds testing counter-adaptations of information sources opened a previously uncharted territory of co-evolution. It provides strong evidence that species being used as information sources (great tits) may develop (counter-) adaptations by hiding the information from information parasites (pied flycatchers). However, very little is known about the generality, mechanisms and fitness implications of these recent, novel findings. Hence, better understanding of adaptive social information use between species is clearly of utmost significance for ecology.


Loukola OJ, Seppänen J-T & Forsman JT (2014) Pied flycatchers nest over other nests, but would prefer not to. Ornis Fennica 91 (4): 201.

Loukola OJ, Laaksonen T, Seppänen J-T & Forsman JT (2014) Active hiding of social information from information-parasites. BMC Evolutionary Biology 14(1): 32.

Loukola OJ, Seppänen J-T, Krams I, Torvinen S & Forsman JT (2013) Observed fitness may affect niche overlap in competing species via selective social information use. American Naturalist 182(4): 474–483.

Niemelä  PT, Vainikka A, Forsman JT, Loukola OJ & Kortet R (2013) How does variation in the environment and individual cognition explain the existence of consistent behavioral differences? Ecology and evolution 3(2): 457-464.

Loukola OJ, Seppänen J-T & Forsman JT (2012) Intraspecific social information use in the selection of nest site characteristics. Animal Behaviour 83(3): 629–633.


For my Google Scholar publications and citation summary please click here.

For my Research gate page please click here.