Damien Farine



I graduated with degrees in Microelectronic Engineering and Computer Science. This was followed by a position at the CSIRO, where I investigated the potential role of bioenergy and biofuels in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. I joined the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology (EGI) at the University of Oxford as a DPhil student in 2010, working with Prof. Ben Sheldon on the role of individual decision-making in social structure and collective animal behaviour. I then spent one and a half years as a postdoctoral research fellow working across several projects: one which investigated the social dynamics of cultural behaviour (at the EGI on a BBSRC funded grant awarded to Ben Sheldon, Lucy Aplin, Alex Thornton and myself) and a second which examines individual roles and social networks in collective motion and group decision-making (at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the University of California Davis on an NSF funded fellowship with Dr. Meg Crofoot and Dr. Tanya Berger-Wolf). In 2015 I started as a Principal Investigator at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Konstanz, Germany, and remain as a Research Associate with the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford.


How do collective behaviours and social structure emerge in animal populations? Seemingly simple mechanisms can often be amplified to produce remarkable group-level behaviours or population-level patterns. For example, highly cohesive collective movement patterns can emerge when animals respond to the movement cues of nearby neighbours. Similarly, groups of animals can solve complex problems, such as sensing their environment or finding cryptic new food sources, by eavesdropping on information being generated by nearby individuals. While natural selection acts on the behavioural phenotypes of (often selfish) individuals, collective behaviours are a group-level, or sometimes population-level, property that themselves can shape selection, and therefore form part of a complex evolutionary process. To understand how collective behaviours evolve or social structure emerges, one must understand (1) the mapping between individual phenotypes and collective behaviour, (2) the link between collective behaviour, the environment (both social and physical), and individual fitness, and (3) how selection arising from ecological or social conditions drives the expression of the phenotypes that are linked with collective behaviour or particular decisions that lead to consistent social structure. My aim is to tackle these questions in unison, and I believe this has the potential to revolutionise our understanding of the evolution of social behaviour.


Farine, D.R., Montiglio, P.O., Spiegel, O. (2015) From individuals to groups and back: the evolutionary implications of group phenotypic composition. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 30(10): 609-621.

Farine, D.R., Spencer, K.A., Boogert, N.J. (2015) Early-Life Stress Triggers Juvenile Zebra Finches to Switch Social Learning Strategies. Current Biology 25(16): 2184-2188.

Strandburg-Peshkin, A.*, Farine, D.R.*, Couzin, I.D., Crofoot, M.C. (2015) Shared decision-making drives collective movement in wild baboons. Science 348(6241): 1358-1361. * joint first authors

Farine, D.R., Whitehead, H. (2015) Constructing, conducting, and interpreting animal social network analysis. Journal of Animal Ecology 84(5): 1144-1163.

Aplin, L.M., Farine, D.R., Morand-Ferron, J., Cockburn, A., Thornton, A., Sheldon, B.C. (2015) Experimentally induced innovations lead to persistent culture via conformity in wild birds. Nature 518: 538-541.

Farine, D.R., Aplin, L.M., Sheldon, B.C., Hoppitt, W. (2015) Interspecific social networks promote information transmission in wild songbirds. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 282: 20142804.

Aplin, L.M.*, Farine, D.R.*, Mann, R.P., Sheldon, B.C. (2014) Individual-level personality influences social foraging and collective behaviour in wild birds. Proceedings of the Royals Society B 218 (1789): 20141016.* joint first authors

Farine, D.R. (2013) Animal Social Network Inference and Permutations for Ecologists in R using asnipe. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 4(12): 1187–1194.

See https://sites.google.com/site/drfarine/publications for a full list of publications.