I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Collective Behavior at the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior in Konstanz, Germany. I have multiple collaborative projects where my role is leading the modeling and analysis of data, and applying simulations and quantitative methods to understand animal behavior. These include, example, how animal groups process information, adapt to their environment, and perform tasks together to function as a group.

This site has information on my current research, publications, and available datasets.

Current research projects

Individual and long-term analysis of honey bee behavior

We tagged and tracked the lifetime behavior of 13,000+ honeybees using the Beesbook barcode tracking system, to understand how bees differ in their lifetime behavioral patterns and how the colony responds to environmental changes. With the labs of Michael Smith, Iain Couzin, and Tim Landgraf.

Honeybee lifetime data
Lifetime analysis  Male reproductive drones analysis

Foraging behavior from individual to collective

We used techniques from neuroscience to model foraging behavior, with a goal of bridging concepts between disciplines.
Extensions considered optimal strategies and exchange of information of social foraging groups. Current work is analyzing social behavior of rats and designing experiments using rats and locusts. With Ahmed El Hady, Zachary Kilpatrick, and Máté Nagy

Numerical simulation code for foraging drift diffusion model

Collective motion of C. elegans nematode worms

Different mutants of the model organism C. elegans show very different collective behavior patterns. We are using tracking and quantitative methods to describe these different patterns, and simulations to represent different mutants as well as mixed groups of worms. With Serena Ding. (image from Ding et al 2019)

Parasitism and movement of guppies

This project asks how parasites affects both the individual and collective behavior of guppy fish. Experiments include individual flow-tank testing, and collective motion of groups. With Iain Couzin and Angela Albi.

Completed research projects

Comparing collective systems

As part of an interdisciplinary project with Medhavi Vishwakarma and Michael Smith, we asked how different collective systems — such as honey bees and epithelial cells — coordinate their behavior to function as a group, and developed a conceptual framework that can be used to compare different collective systems.

Genetic control of collective behavior in zebrafish

Working with Mark Fishman, we analyzed data of a large-scale genetic screen for social behavior of zebrafish. By comparing 90 different genetic mutants plus wild type fish, we identified mutant lines that differ in behavior.

Mutant zebrafish data   Analysis code

Collective detection in animal groups

We used computer vision techniques to analyze data of golden shiner fish and formulated a model to ask how collective detection depends on the properties of an animal group.

Motion of golden shiners  Detection model/analysis code

Parasitism and motion of stickleback fish

With Jolle Jolles, I used motion modeling to understand how parasites affect the pair-swimming motion of stickleback fish, to show that a passive mechanism – speed differences – can explain dominant leader-follower motion trends.

Data from paper   Paper codes   Swarmkit simulation code

Motion and foraging behavior of desert harvester ants

With Mark Goldman and Deborah Gordon, I used models from physics and neuroscience to understand how harvester ants use interactions to regulate foraging behavior and organize spatially in the nest.

Ant interaction and movement data   Spatial analysis of ants

Electroactive polymers and rubber elasticity

In my PhD work with Nakhiah Goulbourne, I developed models of electroactive polymers and rubber elasticity, and used molecular dynamics simulations to examine how microscopic configurations lead to macroscopic material properties.

Other than research, I’m involved with the MPI-PostdocNet working group on Equity and Diversity (see our seminar series), and was a co-organizer for TEDxKonstanz.

Outside of work, you’ll find me hiking, mountain biking, or climbing, or playing drums or guitar with our band Zed13.

You can reach me at jdavidson (at) ab.mpg.de