Associate Professor Damien Farine

DPhil (University of Oxford)
ANU College of Science

Areas of expertise

  • Behavioural Ecology 310301
  • Evolutionary Ecology 310405
  • Animal Behaviour 310901
  • Vertebrate Biology 310914
  • Biological Network Analysis 310202
  • Biostatistics 490502

Research interests

I aim to understand how individuals navigate their social landscape and how, in turn, social life impacts the interactions between individuals’ physiology and their ecological environment. I combine advanced analytical and data collection techniques that allow us to scale up from the interactions among individuals to emergent population-level patterns and processes. I apply this approach to long-term studies in both captive and wild empirical systems, linking fine-scale moment-by-moment decisions of individuals to long-term consequences.

See my website for more details:


Current position

Eccellenza Professor,University of Zurich

Associate Professor, Australian National University 

Affiliated Scientist, Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior.

Previous position

Principal Investigator, Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior 

 Principal Investigator, Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour

Lecturer, University of Konstanz.


Postdoctoral experience

Postdoctoral researcher, University of Oxford

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Fellow, University of California Davis.



DPhil, Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, University of Oxford.



2018 Christopher Barnhard award for Outstanding Contributions by a New Investigator, Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour

2019 ERC Starting Grant "The Ecology of Collective Behaviour"

2019, 2020, and 2021 ISI Highly Cited Researcher.


Researcher's projects

My projects all involve collecting high-resolution data on animal social groups.

My primary project is the vulturine guineafowl project, in Laikipia, Kenya:

I also work with a team from Brazil on cooperation between dolphins and fishers at Laguna:

My group also conducts captive experiment, predominantly on zebra finches:

Finally, I am planning to start working on similar field and captive projects in Australia. Stay tuned!

Available student projects

I offer a range of options for student projects, including theory-based project, captive experiments, and studies on wild populations. Get in touch if you are interested!

Current student projects

PhD Projects

2020– Mina Ogino (Drivers of consistent differences in social behaviour among groups)

2019– Salamatu Abdu (The influence of parasites on social structure and decision-making in complex animal societies)

2019– Tobit Dehnen (Development and maintenance of dominance hierarchies in vulturine guineafowl)

2019– Alexandre Machado (Individual variation among dolphins specialised in foraging witht artisanal fishermen) 

2018– James Klarevas-Irby (The energetics of large-scale displacement by dispersing vulturine guineafowl)

2014– Grace Davis (Social organization, collective decision making, and social foraging in capuchins and spider monkeys)


MSc Projects

2021– Sikenykeny Kipkorir (Foraging ecology of the vulturine guineafowl)

2021–  Tullio de Boer (Habitat selection of dispersing vulturine guineafowl – landscape features influencing movement)

2021–   Wismer Cherono (Dispersal in the vulturine guineafowl)




Past student projects

PhD Projects

2017–21 Peng He (The role of habitat configuation in shaping the outcomes of social interactions)

2017–21 André Ferreira (Social preferences, kinship and helping behaviour in a colonial cooperatively breeding bird)

2017–20  Monica Bond (Dynamics of a socially and spatially structured giraffe population in a human-natural landscape)

2016–20  Kristina Beck (The link between social environment and patterns of extra-pair paternity)

2016–21 Danai Papageorgiou (Collective movement and social decision-making in the vulturine guineafowl)

2015–19 Friederike Hillemann (Socio-ecological factors shaping mixed-species groups)

2015–19  Stephen Lang (Predator foraging strategies)


MSc Projects

2018–21 Brendah Nyaguthii (Cooperative breeding in the vulturine guineafowl)

2018–20 Mina Ogino (Quantifying the variability of group-level network properties within and between social groups)

2017–18 Katie Mathison (Comparing social dynamics and telomere attrition between high promiscuity and low promiscuity flocks of zebra finches)

2017–18 Lea Prox (A framework for conceptualising dimensions of social organisation in mammals)

2016–18 Gustavo Alarcon (Likelihood of defaunation in tropical forests under increased hunting pressure: implications for food security and conservation)

2016–18 James Klarevas-Irby (Conservation implications of irrational decision-making in avian systems)


BSc Projects

2021 Nina Buschhausen (Consequences of stress on pair bond dynamics in zebra finches)

2020 Patrick Lauer (Tracking of stress responses in social groups of zebra finches)

2019 Till Dorendorf (Paving the way: who leads when groups move to new places)

2017 Robin Reder (Risk-reward trade-offs in mixed-species foraging flocks)

2017 Veronica Hoersch (Ontogeny of pair formation in social networks)

2016 Laila Dairouch (Which social factors determine the rate of extra-pair fertilisations in zebra finches?)

2016 Jana Hoersch (Group composition and collective problem solving in zebra finches)




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Updated:  22 May 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers