About Me

** I am currently advertising for a PhD student to join my lab: please get in touch if you are interested **

** I am also looking for postdocs to join my lab, get in touch if you are keen to explore opportunities **

visit my lab webpage here: http://collectivebehaviour.com/farine-lab/


I am a Principal Investigator at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology Department of Collective Behaviour based in the Department of Biology at the University of Konstanz, and a research associate at the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology (Department of Zoology, University of Oxford). I am generally fascinated by animal groups. The central aims of my research are to understand the interplay between natural selection and social behaviour by studying animal groups in the wild.

My research is spread across three continents. I am developing guineafowls as a study system, working with both wild populations in Kenya and captive flocks in Germany. I am still working on wild tits, using these to understand the factors that shape social structure and social processes ranging from single species groups through to the interspecific community level. Finally, I am continuing to run my long-term study site at Mulligan's Flat Nature Reserve, near Canberra. Along with my collaborator Peter Milburn, we are maintaining a population of colour-banded birds (mainly thornbills) to investigate long-term social processes in cooperative breeders (both within- and between-species), and patterns of habitat use in a mosaic woodland across seasons.

Along with being fascinated by my research questions, I have also been at the forefront of developing new approaches for collecting data on social animals in the wild, and methods for analysing these data. This includes developing novel analytical methods and providing guidance for using these. In particular, I have been heavily involved in developing robust approaches for conducting social network analysis. 

I was previously a postdoc in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford and the Department of Anthropology at the University of California Davis (holding a fellowship from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute). In Oxford, worked my research on collective behaviour and social networks in birds. Working with Lucy Aplin and Ben Sheldon, I developed models and analyses of socially transmitted information. Lucy has more information on this project here: Diffusion Experiment, and see a video about this research here: Social learning in great tits

I also worked with Meg Crofoot and Tanya Berger-Wolf on a project investigating the dynamics of social networks and collective decision-making in a GPS-collared troop of baboons (see more about this exciting project here: decision-making in baboons). Using these highly novel data we studied the mechanisms that modulate leadership, consensus decision-making and how individuals position themselves within the troop.

My PhD at the University of Oxford was under the supervision of Prof. Ben Sheldon and Dr. Colin Garroway, based at the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology where I investigated social interactions between individuals of different species.  These interactions form the basis for complex and intriguing collective behaviours that are driven by a trade-off between competitive costs over limited resources and mutualistic benefits arising from predation avoidance.  

During the course of my work, I have developed several packages for R that can be found on this website. I have also started running short courses on how to do network analysis and how to use R for analysing animal social network data.

My research has also received extensive media coverage, including television and radio interviews. I've worked with the BBC to design citizen-science experiments and contributed science content both online and during live broadcasting.

For recent updates about what I've been up to, see my News page.


follow me on twitter @DamienFarine


see details about our article in Science on my Publications page