Principal Investigators

Alex Jordan

Alex studies the complex social and collective systems of animals great and small – the ways single individuals come together to form much larger groups, and the feedback between the behaviour of groups and that of the individuals that compose them. His research program  encompasses field studies in Africa, Australia, and the Americas, and lab approaches including molecular genetics, neurobiology of social interactions, and socio-cognitive behavioural assays. His group aims to understand both the proximate mechanisms and the ultimate outcomes of social interactions and behavioural plasticty. His research group page is here

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ajordan(at)orn(dot)mpg(dot)de

Post-doctoral Fellows

Simon Gingins

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I’m a biologist from Switzerland, and I work on coral reef fish behaviour. I completed my PhD at the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland) on the behaviour of the bluestreak cleaner wrasse Labroides dimidiatus  with Prof. Redouan Bshary. I am now at the Max Planck Institute in Konstanz (Germany) doing a project on the collective behaviour of damselfish with Prof. Iain Couzin & Dr. Alex Jordan.

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sgingins(at)orn(dot)mpg(dot)de

Matthew Lutz

Matthew is a biologist and architect. His work across disciplines is driven by a desire to understand how simple rules and interactions between individuals give rise to complex pattern and structure at higher levels of organization. He completed his PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton in 2016 with Iain Couzin, where the focus of his dissertation was the self-assembled structures built by army ants of the genus Eciton out of their own bodies. He conducted field experiments in Panama to understand the dynamics of these structures and their adaptive benefits at the colony level. Prior to this, he received an MS in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University, where he focused on developing computational methods of generative design inspired by the self-organizing principles of collective animal behaviour. As a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Jordan Lab, Matthew is researching the interactions between building behaviour, web structure and group living in social spiders.

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mlutz(at)orn(dot)mpg(dot)de

Sofia Rodriguez-Brenes

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Sofia studies animal communication and the evolutionary processes underlying mate choice and social interactions. She recently completed her PhD with Prof Mike Ryan at UT Austin, looking at the interaction between acoustic signalling and chytrid infection in Tungara frogs. As a postdoc in the Jordan lab, she is studying how seismic communication is used by social spiders to coordinate group movements, and how the structure and connectivity of webs influence signal transmission.

Ph.D. Students

Etienne Lein

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Etienne is using the Taganyikan Lamprologine cichlids in both lab and field to study the implications of sociality on brain anatomy, neural activation networks, and cognition. His work aims to uncover the substrates of social behaviour and determine the causes of variation in response to social stimuli among individuals and species.

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elein(at)orn(dot)mpg(dot)de

R. Ian Etheredge

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Ian is a computational ethologist interested in understanding the relationship between perception, behaviour and social organisation. During his PhD, he is exploring the role of these dynamics in mate choice, extended cognition and group competition. He asks how animals actively shape their perception of the environment, the perception of themselves by others and the effect of the social context on these processes.

 

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ian.etheredge(at)orn(dot)mpg(dot)de

Jian Zhao

Jian is working with with the Couzin and Jordan labs to develop an automated behavioural assay to assess the hunger level of cichlids. This will be used to maximise feeding efficiency and minimise wastage and nutrient pollution in aquaculture systems.

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jzhao(at)orn(dot)mpg(dot)de

Mariana Rodriguez

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Mariana is a PhD student in the Hofmann Lab at The University of Texas who is working with the Jordan Lab on the neurobiology of social learning in structured social groups.

Shoyo Sato

Shoyo is a student with Gonzalo Giribet at Harvard, working together with the Jordan Lab to understand the evolution and mechanisms of social and collective behaviour in spiders.

Masters Students

Alex Boehm

Alex studies social ontogeny and hierarchy within networks of the cichlid Neolamprologus multifasciatus

Fritz Francisco

Fritz studies social interactions in Tanganyikan cichlids, using automated tracking and behavioural decomposition to quantify the differences among species.

Jakob Guebel

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Jakob uses digital reconstruction techniques to quantify connectivity on spider webs and will be employing these techniques to understand social group structure and collective movement in the field.

Melanie Wickert

 

Melanie is studying how the structure of social groups affects information flow and influence networks in communities of Lamprologine cichlids.

 

Paul Nuehrenberg

 

Paul studies the collective foraging behaviour of groups of Lamprologus callipterus known as ‘rolling’, using empirical and modeling approaches.

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Undergraduates

Jacqueline Dettinger

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Jacqueline’s interests lie in behavioural biology and in particular on the mechanisms of collective behaviour. In the Jordan lab she is looking into the effect of social hierarchy in collective decision processes using Tanganyikan cichlids.

Kai Schleifer

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Kai’s interests include everything that moves, crawls and swims. He is using 3D behavioural tracking and digital web reconstruction approaches to understand how social and aggregative spiders communicate and create collective structures.

Karoline Jetter

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Karoline is currently studying biological sciences at the University of Konstanz. She works as a scientific assistant in the Jordan Lab, where she will be engaged in the research on cichlids and Nephila senegalensis. Primarily she is interested in animal behaviour and ecological traits, as well as in neuroscience.

Robert Felbier

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Robert is modeling social interactions in communal spiders to understand how aggregations of otherwise aggressive individuals can form and be maintained.