Research in the area of Collective Behaviour and Ecology leverages synergies between biology, computer science, physics, economics, sociology and psychology to quantitatively measure the actions, traits and states of individuals, the structures they form and in which they interact as well as the environmental issues they are subjected to and create. Important areas of study with a focus on ecology include, amongst others, plant ecology, especially the distribution of invasive plant species, and limnology (the study of inland water ecosystems). With the Cluster of Excellence “Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour” (EXC 2117), the university is in the process of establishing a world-leading research hotspot for the study of collective behaviour across a range of organisms and scales of organisation, including humans.
Research in this field is conducted in close collaboration with the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Radolfzell. Among other things, it investigates complex collective decision-making processes in aquatic animals, land animals and birds as well as animal migration and its impact on global ecosystems. These efforts are supported by a range of revolutionary new technologies, including, for instance, the space-borne animal tracking system ICARUS (International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space), innovative virtual reality environments as well as the Centre for Visual Computing of Collectives (VCC), which is scheduled to open in 2021.