About Us

We are the Max Planck Department of Collective Behaviour and are based at the University of Konstanz in Germany. Konstanz is an historic city in southern Germany on the shores of Lake Constance, and at the gateway to the Alps.

Presently we consist of three labs led by Iain Couzin (Director of the Department), Damien Farine. We work on a wide range of organisms in both the laboratory and field, including fish, insects, arachnids, mammals and birds. You can read more about our research here. If you are unfamiliar with collective animal behaviour you can find excellent popular science features on the work in Iain Couzin’s group by Ed Yong, in WIRED magazine (2013) here and by Carl Zimmer for The New York Times (2007) here and by Michael Brooks for New Scientist magazine (2014) here. 

About the Max Planck Institute

The goal of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science is to support excellent fundamental research in the natural, life, and social sciences, as well as arts and humanities. This goal is achieved in more than eighty Max Planck Institutes, each of which focuses on a single area of research. The majority of institutes are located in Germany, although a few have recently been established overseas. The Max Planck Society has a world-leading reputation with 33 Nobel Prizes awarded to their scientists. The Nature Publishing Index placed the Max Planck institutes 4th worldwide in terms of research published http://www.natureindex.com/annual-tables/2016/institution/all/all and Thomson-Reuters-Science Watch placed the Max Planck Society as 2nd globally (following Harvard University) in terms of the impact of research produced in science.

Ten Institutions that Dominated Science in 2015

The Institutes of the Max Planck Society are independent and autonomous in the selection and conduct of their research pursuits. Each institute has its own, internally managed, budget, which is supplemented by third-party funds through competitive research grants and collaborations.

The Department of Collective Behavior at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior has three research groups (led by Iain Couzin, Damien Farine respectively). If it’s collective, and a great system for asking questions, then it is of interest to us!

About the University of Konstanz

The University of Konstanz one of the nine “elite universities” in Germany. The University has almost 12,000 students and is situated on a hill overlooking Lake Constance, the Island of Mainau and Mainau Forest. The campus is a short cycle or bus ride from the city center which has a large and well preserved old town (Altstadt), and a vibrant day and nightlife, including many museums, galleries, and parks.


Our local airport is Zurich, which is 50 mins away by car and approximately 1 hour by direct train link.

Graduate school

We are part of the International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) for Organismal Biology which is a close cooperation between the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior and the University of Konstanz. It provides first-class training and education for outstanding doctoral students, which it welcomes from all over the world (http://www.orn.mpg.de/2453/Short_portrait). The IMPRS focuses on research covering behaviour, ecology, evolution, physiology and neurobiology. All students accepted into our program at the Department of Collective Behaviour are fully funded. 


English is our working language. We are highly international with members from Scotland, Colombia, The Netherlands, Australia, Kenya, USA, England, India, Israel, France, China, Romania, Switzerland, and even Germany. All teaching and research is conducted in English. German language classes are offered to students from abroad.