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Hanna Kokko

Eco-evolutionary and life history modelling of ageing

Nature shows an amazing diversity of life-history strategies, i.e. the scheduling of important events in an organism’s life cycle: within the same taxon one may find “live fast, die young” species as well as those that appear to invest much more into the temporal robustness of the soma, yielding greater longevity but possibly at the expense of reproductive output per unit time. Since there clearly is no unique solution that all species converge on, the task is to understand the evolutionary logic that underpins such diversity. My research group works on eco-evolutionary and demographic modelling of processes that can predict, based on the ecological setting, the expected life history. I also have an interest in the reasons why evolution may fail to produce precisely optimal solutions to the challenges of adaptation, as well as why multicellularity cannot, even if given ample evolutionary time, get rid of cancer.

Research website 

Positions held

  • Since 2023: Alexander von Humboldt Professor, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU)
  • 2014 - 2022: Professor of Evolutionary Ecology, University of Zurich
  • 2014: Short-term Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin
  • 2010 - 2014: Australian Laureate Fellow & Professor of Evolutionary Ecology, Australian National University, Canberra
  • 2009 - 2010: Sabbatical year, Australian National University, Canberra
  • 2004 - 2010: Professor of Animal Ecology, University of Helsinki
  • 2003 - 2004: Academy Research Fellow, University of Helsinki
  • 2002 - 2003: Lecturer, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
  • 2000 - 2002: Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow, University of Glasgow
  • 1998 - 2000: Marie Curie Research Fellow, University of Cambridge


  • 1997: PhD in Zoology, University of Helsinki

Selected publications by Hanna Kokko

de Vries C, Galipaud M and Kokko H (2023) Extrinsic mortality and senescence: a guide for the perplexed. Peer Community J, 3:e29 Link

Kokko H (2021) The stagnation paradox: the ever-improving but (more or less) stationary population fitness. Proc Biol Sci, 288:20212145 Link 

Aubier TG, Galipaud M, Erten EY and Kokko H (2020) Transmissible cancers and the evolution of sex under the Red Queen hypothesis. PLoS Biol, 18:e3000916 Link

Erten EY and Kokko H (2020) From zygote to a multicellular soma: body size affects optimal growth strategies under cancer risk. Evol Appl, 13:1593-1604 Link

Galipaud M and Kokko H (2020) Adaptation and plasticity in life-history theory: how to derive predictions. Evol Hum Behav, 41:493-501 Link

Ratikainen II and Kokko H (2019) The coevolution of lifespan and reversible plasticity. Nat Commun, 10:538 Link

Kokko H (2017) Give one species the task to come up with a theory that spans them all: what good can come out of that? Proc Biol Sci, 284:20171652 Link