Group members - SULab

We welcome informal inquiries about Master students, PhD candidates or Postdoctoral projects. Please send a mail to Cédric Sueur for any research proposal.

Cédric Sueur is associate Professor (Maître de Conférences) at the University of Strasbourg since 2011. He is mainly
working on animal behaviour and specifically on social networking and decision-making in animal groups at the Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien (Département d’Ecologie, Physiologie, Ethologie).  He got the Young Scientist Award from the French Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Cédric Sueur is at the head of a network entitled “Social Network Analysis in Animal Societies” (SNAAS).

Junior researchers

During her PhD, Charlotte Canteloup focused on the study of Theory of mind abilities in macaques to better understand the evolution of cognition. She is now investigating the origins of culture throughout her postdoctoral project about the effects of social networks on social learning strategies in wild vervet monkeys. Her project is realized under the supervision of Dr. Erica van de Waal from the University of Zürich, Switzerland, and in collaboration with Dr. Cédric Sueur from the University of Strasbourg, France, and Dr. William Hoppitt from the University of Leeds, England.

Group-living species, such as cooperative breeders, face the evolutionary dilemma of whether to cooperate or to compete over resources so that sociality comes with costs and benefits. Margaux aims to understand the mechanisms that allow the evolution and maintenance of complex, cooperative societies. She has recently joined the Hot Bird Project as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Cape Town and at the University of Pretoria (South Africa). Focusing on cooperative desert birds (sociable weavers, Philetairus socius and white-browed sparrow-weavers, Plocepasser mahali) , she investigates whether temperature variations shape and modify interactions between group members and ultimately, impact their social network. Her primary goals are to identify whether social structures may be sensitive to climate change and whether specific social positions may be more vulnerable to such changes. Member of the hot bird project

Many of the complex phenomena observed in animal societies seem to be emergent properties of simple behavioural rules at the individual level. Using individual-based models, Ivan investigates how and what simple rules may result in complex social behaviour. In his post-doctoral research, he tests two main assumptions proposed by the individual-based model GrooFiWorld for the emergence of complex behaviour in societies of primates. This model suggests that the spatial structure of the group is the main cause of complex social behaviour, and that aggression is the factor shaping this structure. He tests whether the spatial structure in GrooFiWorld is equivalent to that in primates. In addition, he examines the role of affiliation as an alternative mechanism for the formation of a spatial structure and its consequences on the emergence of complex social behaviour.

PhD Students

Valéria’s project mainly investigates how network properties might interact to mediate pathogen and information transmission in a vast range of primate species (including both captive and wild New World and Old World primates). Her approach is based on a combination of sampling of empirical data, modelling and network analysis, which will allow her to predict and understand the importance of individual and social traits (e.g. individual connectedness, dominance rank) to the chain of transmission through a comparative perspective.

She is interested for several years in the organization and the social structure of several animal species, as well as the phenomenon of leadership. Her first works, carried out during her second year of Master, focused on the European bison. She focused particularly on the space use and collective movements in a herd of bison, reintroduced in a reserve in southern FranceHer current thesis project aims to study the socio-ecology of the European bison and the North America plains bisons. This comparative study aims to develop management and conservation strategies of bison populations in the context of reintroductions in natural environments.

The objective of his PhD project is to develop a simulation tool of food collective management and food storage in an ant’s nest. To this end he focuses on the construction and analysis of an integrated model of food flow dynamic. Investigation of the model will provide answers concerning determinants and mechanisms underlying modulation of foraging activity to colony’s needs. He analyses proximal factors involved in collective food management and the ultimate causes having shaped this dynamics. The synthesis and determination of processing involved in emergent properties at global colony level require a description of elementary components in the nest and their interactions. Through this functional modelling approach, my project is also intended as an overall and original synthesis and integration of main actual knowledge of the rules governing collective management of food in ants.  

Alexandre is interested in the interaction between urban environments, human social networks and health.  He is currently working on methodological applications of socio-spatial network analysis on human populations in a public health perspective. He investigates how different characteristics of urban environments are associated to healthy aging through social relationships and social activities. His doctoral project is part of an international research program based on partnership between teams of Canada, France and Luxembourg.

Benoit Letang

Benoit has an unusual background punctuated by professional experiences in animal care and a return to the university studies. His goal is to use ethology in managing captive population of species in zoological environment. With a particular interest to the primates and their interactions within their social systems so varied, his project focus on the Western Lowland Gorilla hosted in about 80 european zoological institutions. By studying the socialization process, the dynamics of social networks, the development of cognitive abilities, and the influence of temperament of the immature individuals within breeding groups and bachelor groups, its purpose is to define what may be the solution adapted to control the overpopulation of males observed in captivity since about 20 years.

McGill University
The intense mining activities on Baffin island and in the Arctic in general locally increase the shipping activities in this area. The main objective of my Ph.D. is to show how these shipping activities are impacting populations of thick-billed murres, an Arctic seabird. To succeed, I will use a large GPS data set associated with accelerometer, temperature and pressure data. Combined all together, these data allow to follow in detail the birds activities and and make a general model which will help better manage the shipping traffic and limit its impact on the local birds populations.

Isaac Debache

Isaac studied economics, social sciences and demography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the European Doctoral School of Demography. He is interested in modelling and simulating social phenomena in order to measure their outcomes on various demographic effects: fertility, health, migration and mortality. He is currently working on a PhD (University of Strasbourg) that aims at analyzing social networks and mobility in relation to their effects on individuals’ health.

Former members 

Now on Philip Island, Australia with André Chiaradia to work on little Penguin

Xavier is generally interested in animal behaviour, especially how foraging strategies evolve to buffer changes in environment. His current PhD project investigates if behavioural complexity modulation in foraging sequences is pertinent to buffer environmental change, using Adélie penguins (Adélie Land, Antarctica), little penguins (Phillip Island, Australia) and others flying seabirds (Marion Island, South Africa) exposed to various environmental challenges as models.

Now at the School of Sociology and Anthropology, Sun Yat-sen University

Which way individuals interact between them? How a society is structured to face natural selection challenges (group cohesion, hierarchical structure…)? These are part of the questions currently considered by Sosa Orozco Sebastian through multilevel and multi-methodological analyses (social networking and classical referential statistics) to understand the processes of structuring in animal societies, the ecological and evolutional consequences over the structures themselves and the characteristics that emerge from it. The current project aims at answering these numerous questions through a trans-specific study within the clade Macaca.

Now at IPHC, Strasbourg, as permanent CNRS researcher

Understanding diversity in Nature requires insight on the proximate contribution of genetic and ecological factors shaping organism phenotype. His research lies at the crossroads of animal behavioural ecology, ecophysiology, and evolutionary biology. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, and bridging the gap between proximate and ultimate research, He investigates how animals, both birds and mammals, adapt (behaviour and physiology) to a continuously changing environment. I am interested in particular in the evolution of group living, and how social and non-social stimuli may shape physiological and behavioural strategies. He strongly believes that it is through integrative and multidisciplinary knowledge of our living world that we may not only understand and better protect our natural heritage, but also grasp a better understanding of our own nature. This challenge can only be met by a collaborative effort.

Now at the Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University with a JSPS fellwoship

Julie is generally interested in animal social behaviour and in the evolution of social structures, mainly in non-human primates. Her current postdoctoral project investigates the trade-offs between information and disease transmissions within a social network in the Japanese macaques of Kojima island, in Japan. For her doctoral thesis, she studied the degree of social tolerance, the conflict resolution strategies and the general cooperation patterns of female crested macaques, in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Now at the CRCA, Toulouse, with an Idex fellowship

His research interest lies at the interface of individual strategies and group functionality to discover processes shaping group structures and their feedback on individual behaviour. More specifically, he studies interaction networks and behavioural strategies in Drosophila melanogaster, during social learning tasks, to detect which are the most efficient network structures predicting the diffusion of an information. He is also interested at the origin and cause of behavioural adaptations that can influence information transmission in animals. In particular, He is delving into the study of conformism attitudes as the result of evolutionary mechanisms enhancing learning in animal society.

Now at the IPHC as junior researcher on a Life European Grant

Christophe Bousquet is an expert in the domain of collective decisions and communication in animal groups. He is working on “Personal information and group decision-making in a fission-fusion society, the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)”.  Within his PhD project, he addressed questions on group decision-making in wild groups of meerkats (Suricata suricatta), cooperatively breeding mongooses with high reproductive skew, foraging as cohesive units. He tried to fill the gap between theory and empirical evidence by quantifying naturally occurring transitions of activities and conducting experiments.