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Andrea Flack

I am now a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany.


My research focuses on the question of how animals that live in groups, like pigeons, reach consensus on what the group should do. This is a fundamental puzzle in the study of animal behaviour, and relevant to a range of different species in a wide variety of contexts. Because of the ease with which the possession and flow of information within flocks can be quantified, navigating pigeons are particularly suitable for the study of group decision-making. I aim to answer a variety of questions concerning interactions between navigating pigeons. My emphasis is on the relationship between individual and group performance, on the one hand, and on the question of how the past experiences of different members of groups is eventually combined during group navigation. In parallel to the experimental fieldwork, I intend to formulate mathematically the mechanisms underlying my field observations.


Before coming to Oxford I received my Diploma (equivalent MSc) in Biological sciences at the Free University of Berlin. In my final undergraduate project, I investigated communication and navigation in honeybees.



Flack, Andrea, Zsuzsa Ákos, Máté Nagy, Tamás Vicsek, and Dora Biro. "Robustness of flight leadership relations in pigeons." Animal Behaviour 86 (2013): 723-732.

Flack, A., R. Freeman, T. Guilford, and D. Biro. "Pairs of pigeons act as behavioural units during route learning and co-navigational leadership conflicts." The Journal of Experimental Biology 216 (2013): 1434-1438.

Flack, A., B. Pettit, R. Freeman, T. Guilford, and D. Biro. "What are leaders made of? The role of individual experience in determining leader–follower relations in homing pigeons." Animal Behaviour 83 (2012): 703-709.