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Animal collective behaviour: making decisions and avoiding predators in groups

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  • Full or part time
    Dr C Ioannou
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

How, why and when do animals (including humans) form and maintain groups? This has been an ongoing question in the study of animal behaviour for the past century, and even longer in the study of psychology. Recently this has been integrated across taxa as the field of ’collective behaviour’, which often includes humans and non-living agents such as robots. My particular focus is on decisions made by groups (e.g. who makes decisions and how sharing information can improve decision making ability) and how predator behaviour shapes collective behaviour in prey. I typically use freshwater fish as a model system. I am also open to ideas for projects in this general area, and working on animals other than fish, including humans. See our website for more details: http://ioannougroup.com

Although you will be based in the School of Biological Sciences, I am keen to hear from applicants with any relevant background, particularly psychology, computer science, physics, engineering and mathematics. The School has one of the largest animal behaviour groups in the country, a thriving and friendly PhD community, and you will be joining at an exciting time with the recent move to our shiny new £56m building.

Funding Notes

If you know of other schemes to apply to for funding, I am happy to discuss ideas and help with the application.


Ioannou C.C., Singh M., Couzin I.D. (2015) Potential leaders trade-off goal-oriented and socially-oriented behaviour in mobile animal groups. American Naturalist, 10.1086/681988.

Berdahl B., Torney C.J., Ioannou C.C., Faria J.J., Couzin I.D. (2013) Emergent sensing of complex environments by social animal groups. Science, 339: 574-576, 10.1126/science.1225883.

Ioannou C.C., Guttal V., Couzin I.D. (2012). Predatory fish select for coordinated collective motion in virtual prey. Science, 337: 1212-1215, 10.1126/science.1218919.

Couzin I.D., Ioannou C.C., Demirel G., Gross T., Torney C.J., Hartnett A., Conradt L., Levin S.A., Leonard N.E. (2011). Uninformed individuals promote democratic consensus in animal groups. Science, 332: 1578-1580, 10.1126/science.1210280.

Katz Y., Tunstrøm K., Ioannou C.C., Huepe C., Couzin I.D. (2011). Inferring the structure and dynamics of interactions in schooling fish. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108: 18720-18725, 10.1073/pnas.1107583108.

How good is research at University of Bristol in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 64.60

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