Collective Behaviour

Birds flying over a tree
(© MaxCine / C._Ziegler)
Clusters of Excellence

Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour

At the Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour, we aim to create a global hotspot for the integrated study of collective behaviour across a wide range of species and across scales of organization. 

As a collaboration between the University of Konstanz and the co-located Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, we harness substantial expertise in the local region to create a synergistic, interdisciplinary environment for the study of collective behaviour that will be unmatched by any institution around the world. Combining transdisciplinary research with emerging technologies, we are creating a crucible in which the ideas and methods of tomorrow will be forged. Whether you are a researcher, business, or member of the public, we invite you to discover the people and ideas in this hub for collective behaviour.


Collective behaviour is everywhere:
Bird flocks, fish swarms, ungulate herds, and human societies are just some examples of the broad sociality that exists in nature.

Collective behaviour is important:
Not only does its study provide fundamental insights into animal and human behaviour, it is also essential for managing issues of great socio-economic importance, such as pest plagues, virulent diseases, and speculative bubbles.

But the study of collective behaviour is challenging:
Data-oriented research on collective behaviour requires the study of dynamic, multiscale, and interdependent feedback processes. And, it must account for differences in the actions, traits, and states of individuals, and changing conditions in their physical and social environments. In order to cope with this complexity, a new approach is needed that transcends discipline boundaries.


We aim to spearhead an integrated study of collective behaviour across a wide range of species, including humans. Our research is interdisciplinary in scope – combining biology, social psychology, behavioural economics, sociology, physics, mathematics and computer science – but united in a quantitative approach that involves extensive collection and sophisticated analysis of empirical data. It is built on new tools – including an Imaging Hangar for the design of virtual and reactive environments, and a space-borne animal tracking system (ICARUS) – enabling the study of collectives in unparalleled depth.


We are a community of scientists from the University of Konstanz and Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, led by a speaker team and supported by an office team. Use the links below to find out more about us.

Podcast on the Cluster of Excellence