Collective Animal Behaviour

Abstract Understanding collective action in biological processes is a central challenge, essential for achieving progress in a variety of fields ranging from the organization and evolution of neural decision-making circuits, to the coordinated communication among cells, or animals, to the dynamics of information exchange among sophisticated organisms, and the emergence of complex societies. Consequently the study of collective behavior naturally spans scales, from how neural circuits control individual behavior, to the analogous issue of determining the structure and function of the communication network among organisms that gives rise to emergent group, and population-level, behavior. Insights and paradigms from the study of collective behavior help reveal unifying principles, as well as important differences, across scales of biological organization.

We seek PhD candidates for both experimental and theoretical projects investigating collective behavior in invertebrates (e.g. ants, locusts) or vertebrates (e.g. fish, birds, primates) in the lab or field. In particular we seek applicants who thrive in an interdisciplinary environment and would like to employ (and/or develop) new technologies and quantitative approaches for the multi-scale analysis of how animals sense their world and make decisions in the face of uncertainty and risk.

Keywords swarm, school, behavior, information, fish, ants, locusts, tracking, computer vision, virtual reality, self-organization, decision-making, evolution

Main adviser Iain Couzin, MPIO, Konstanz

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