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


Ph.D. Students

Bin Ma


Bin obtained his degree BSc in Aquaculture from Southwest University (China) in 2015, and his MSc in Environmental Science from Dalian Ocean University (China) in 2019. He studies the ways social contexts affect behaviour and autonomic stress responses in social cichlids. He is also interested in understanding how the brain and behavior can be shaped by the social environment. Bin has funded a 4-year scholarship by the China Scholarship Council.

Etienne Lein



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.


Masters Students

Jakob Guebel


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.

Paul Nuehrenberg


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



Sylvia Fernanda Garza


Hola!! I am Biology Master’s student working on spider social behavior. Currently, I am working on Nephila spiders’ mating interactions, specifically, the males’ strategy to approach a female, as well as how these interactions change when males have competition.

Alumni/Former Members

Alex Boehm

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

Alexander Baugh

Alex Baugh is an associate professor of biology at Swarthmore College in Philadelphia where his research group focuses primarily on the neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying social behavior, particularly sexual receptivity in female frogs and songbirds. Alex is spending a sabbatical year working primarily in the Collective Behavior department with Alex Jordan’s group with support from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and MPI-AB. The primary goal is the development of methods for quantifying and manipulating steroid hormones in cichlids with an aim of using these techniques to test hypotheses about endocrine regulation of social behavior across related species.  
His lab website is:

Jacqueline Dettinger


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



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


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.

Fernando Mateos-Gonzalez


Fernando is a Spanish biologist with broad interests in behavioural ecology and evolution. He pursued his PhD with Juan Carlos Senar in Barcelona, where he studied social and sexual functions of colour traits. After completing his dissertation, he joined Mats Björklund and Fredrik Sundström in Uppsala, where he worked on the evolution of species interactions under fluctuating environmental conditions. Fernando has been subjected to fluctuating conditions himself by further exploring his research interests in field trips around Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Australia. He is now working in the Jordan lab on the evolution of social influence in the social cichlid Neolamprologus multifasciatus.

Robert Felbier

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