The extraordinary synchrony of motion exhibited as a flock of birds arcs overhead, or a school of fish turns, as a ripple of light, is captivating. Like some animate fluid the individual organisms appear to move as one, their minds seemingly connected by an invisible network. Professor Couzin’s lecture will provide a visual guide to collective animal behaviour, particularly focusing on migration, using the latest imaging technologies to reveal how and why animals exhibit collective motion, the huge impact swarms have on human life, and the remarkable collective sensing and decision-making capabilities that have arisen in animal groups.
Iain Couzin is Director of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Department of Collective Behaviour, and the Chair of Biodiversity and Collective Behaviour at the University of Konstanz, Germany. Previously he was a Full Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, and prior to that a Royal Society University Research Fellow in the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, and a Junior Research Fellow in the Sciences at Balliol College, Oxford. His work aims to reveal the fundamental principles that underlie evolved collective behavior, and consequently his research includes the study of a wide range of biological systems, from insect swarms to fish schools and primate groups. In recognition of his research he has been recipient of the Searle Scholar Award in 2008, top 5 most cited papers of the decade in animal behavior research 1999-2010, the Mohammed Dahleh Award in 2009, Popular Science’s "Brilliant 10” Award in 2010, National Geographic Emerging Explorer Award in 2012 and the Scientific Medal of the Zoological Society of London in 2013.