Perony, Nicolas, Dr.
Dr. Nicolas Perony
Chair of Systems Design
WEV G 204
Phone: +41 44 632 84 39
Fax: +41 44 632 18 80
February 2012 update
I have recently defended my PhD thesis, which was subsequently awarded the ETH medal. A PDF version of the dissertation can be downloaded here.
I have now started working as a postdoc in the same group. My research focuses specifically on the link between social structure and collective movement in animal groups.
For more frequent updates, check out the News section.
Overview of PhD project
I started in 2008 an interdisciplinary PhD project under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Frank Schweitzer, and co-supervision of Prof. Dr. Barbara Koenig. In order to get insights from behavioural biologists and gain access to animal data, I work in partnership with the groups of Prof. Dr. Barbara Koenig, Prof. Dr. Gerald Kerth, and Prof. Dr. Marta Manser.
My interests lies in the understanding and the description, both qualitative and quantitative, of the social structure and dynamics of animal groups. I use data coming from long-term behavioural biology projects on different social mammal species (most notably wild house mice and Bechstein's bats) combined with methods from network theory and generally statistical physics, in order to investigate the structural and dynamical properties of social groups in animals. In addition to this descriptive approach, I use agent-based modelling techniques to derive simple rules of association underlying the complex features observed in animal groups, and study the universality of some of these rules across different social species.
Topics of interest
- Agent-based modelling of collective dynamics
- Social network analysis and community detection methods
- Stochastic processes, Brownian motion
- Social interactions in animal groups
- Collective animal behaviour
- Group decision making
- Perony, Nicolas, Townsend, Simon W.: Why did the meerkat cross the road? Flexible adaptation of phylogenetically-old behavioural strategies to modern-day threats, PLoS ONE (2012), in press. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0052834.
- Perony, Nicolas, Tessone, Claudio J., König, Barbara, Schweitzer, Frank: How Random Is Social Behaviour? Disentangling Social Complexity through the Study of a Wild House Mouse Population, PLoS Computational Biology (2012) 8(11): e1002786. DOI:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002786.
This article has an associated dataset freely available, DOI: 10.5061/dryad.c2b53.
In the press: ETH Life, SimulPast, PhysOrg.
- Kerth, Gerald*, Perony, Nicolas*, Schweitzer, Frank: Bats are able to maintain long-term social relationships despite the high fission-fusion dynamics of their groups, Proc. R. Soc. B (2011) 278: 2761–2767. DOI:10.1098/rpsb.2010.2718.
Featured in Science Editor's Choice on March 18, 2011. Among the Proc. R. Soc. B most-read Articles during February 2011.
In the press: ScienceNOW, Discovery News, SwissInfo, ABC Science, ETH Life, (more press coverage).
*joint first authorship
- Perony, Nicolas, Richardson, Thomas O., Manser, Marta, Schweitzer, Frank: "Take me to your leader!" Inferring leadership in animal groups on the move, Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems (Artificial Life 13), pp. 594-595 (2012). Link to extended abstract: ISBN 9780262310505.
- Perony, Nicolas, Pfitzner, René, Scholtes, Ingo, Schweitzer, Frank, Tessone, Claudio J.: Hierarchical Consensus Formation Reduces the Influence of Opinion Bias, Proceedings of the 26th European Conference on Modelling and Simulation (ECMS 2012), pp. 662-668 (2012). DOI:10.7148/2012-0662-0668, arXiv:1204.0015.
- Perony, Nicolas, König, Barbara, Schweitzer, Frank: A stochastic model of social interaction in wild house mice. Proceedings of the European Conference on Complex Systems (ECCS'10). arXiv:1212.0662.
- Perony, Nicolas, Pfitzner, René, Scholtes, Ingo, Tessone, Claudio J., Schweitzer, Frank: Enhancing Consensus under Opinionion Bias by Means of Hierarchical Decision Making, under review.
- Svercel, Miroslav*, Filippini, Manuela*, Perony, Nicolas*, Rossetti, Valentina, Bagheri, Homayoun: Analysis of the Correspondence between Phenotypic and Phylogenetic Clustering within the Genera Pseudomonas and Serratia Isolated from a Swiss Glacier, in revision.
*joint first authorship
- Perony, Nicolas, Baigger, Anja, Tessone, Claudio J., Schweitzer, Frank, Kerth, Gerald: Group size regulation from simple individual rules in a fission-fusion species, in preparation.
- Schweitzer, Frank, Perony, Nicolas: Competition dynamics, reputation and the emergence of hierarchies in social systems, in preparation.
- Perony, Nicolas: Comparative analysis of social interactions in animal groups. Doctoral thesis, ETH Zurich, 2012. 10.3929/ETHZ-a-007159348.
- Perony, Nicolas: GPS tracking and heart rate monitoring in meerkats: a technical approach. Masters thesis, National Institute for Applied Sciences of Toulouse, 2008.
Talks at conferences, workshops and invited seminars
(please send me an email if you would like to get a copy of a talk's slides.)
- Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Radolfzell, Germany, December 7, 2012: Decoding social and spatial complexity in animal groups (invited).
- Center for Interdisciplinary Research, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany, November 9, 2012: Leadership and information transfer in moving animal groups (invited).
- Communication and Cognition meeting, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, October 22, 2012: How random is Social Behaviour? A Case Study on Wild House Mice.
- Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe NM, USA, September 13, 2012: On the interface between movement and sociality in animal behaviour, and what lies on either side (invited) (video).
- Applied Zoology and Nature Conservation, University of Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany, September 5, 2012: A quantitative look at social structure and group decision making in Bechstein's bats.
- International Behavioral Ecology Congress (ISBE 2012), Lund University, Lund, Sweden, August 16, 2012: Understanding the influence of fission-fusion dynamics on the establishment of complex social structures.
- Artificial Life 13 conference, Michigan State University, East Lansing MI, USA, July 20, 2012: "Take me to your leader!": Inferring leadership in animal groups on the move (solicited).
- Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK, July 2, 2012: Systematic approaches to leadership within and between meerkat groups.
- 26th European Conference on Modelling and Simulation, University of Koblenz and Landau, Koblenz, Germany, May 30, 2012: Hierarchical Consensus Formation Reduces the Influence of Opinion Bias.
- Laboratory of Insect Social Evolution, The Rockefeller University, New York NY, USA, April 23, 2012: On the link between collective movement and the emergence of sociality (invited).
- Human Nature Lab, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA, April 19, 2012: Quantitative analysis of animal social networks (invited) (video/password:"180longwoodave").
- Couzin Lab, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton NJ, USA, April 17, 2012: From Social Dynamics to Collective Motion (and back) (invited).
- Seminar of the Research Center on Animal Cognition, Paul Sabatier University, Toulouse, France, Feb. 28, 2012: Simplifying social complexity: a quantitative approach to social interactions in animal groups (invited).
- Animal Behaviour Seminar, Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, Feb. 22, 2012: Comparative analysis of social interactions in animal groups.
- PhD defence, Department of Management, Technology and Economics, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, Feb. 21, 2012: Comparative analysis of social interactions in animal groups.
- Lecture Series in Behavioural and Evolutionary Ecology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland, Oct. 12, 2011: Uncomplicated social complexity: descriptive and mechanistic approaches to animal social behaviour (invited).
- Hierarchy: From the Definition to the Characterization of Complex Systems (Satellite Meeting of ECCS'11), University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria, Sep. 15, 2011: The emergence of hierarchy through competition in social organisations.
- Social Energy: A Useful Notion for Analysing Complex Socio-ecological Systems? (Satellite meeting of ECCS'11), University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria, Sep. 14, 2011: From individual energy to collective social behaviour in animal populations.
- University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria, Sep. 13, 2011: How random is social behaviour?, European Conference on Complex Systems 2011 (ECCS'11).
- Department of Biological Physics, Eötvös Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary, May 3, 2011: From Social Dynamics to Collective Motion (and back) (invited).
- Department of Animal Behaviour, Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, Apr. 15, 2011: Animal Interactions in the social and physical spaces.
- Animal Behaviour Seminar, Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, Oct. 13, 2010: The dynamical social network of a wild house mouse population.
- Data-driven dynamical networks workshop, Les Houches Physics School, Les Houches, France, Sep. 27, 2010: The dynamical social network of a wild house mouse population.
- Dynamics On and Of Complex Networks IV (Satellite Meeting of ECCS'10), Lisbon University Institute, Lisbon, Portugal, Sep. 16, 2010: An agent-based approach to sociality in wild house mice (video).
- Science of Complex Networks 2010 (Satellite Meeting of ECCS'10), Lisbon University Institute, Lisbon, Portugal, Sep. 15, 2010: Long-term community evolution in an animal society.
- European Conference on Complex Systems 2010 (ECCS'10), Lisbon University Institute, Lisbon, Portugal, Sep. 14, 2010: A stochastic model of social interaction in wild house mice.
- Zurich Interaction Seminar, Animal Behaviour Seminar, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, Mar. 2, 2009: From Animal Societies to Complex Systems.
- Animal Behaviour Seminar, Zoological Institute, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, Nov. 13, 2008: Social structures in Bechstein's bats.
- Retreat of the Zoological Institute of the University of Zurich, Wildhaus, Switzerland, Oct. 31, 2008: Social structures in Bechstein's bats.
- 2008-2012: PhD studies at ETH Zurich, Chair of Systems Design.
- 2003-2008: Studied electrical engineering at the National Institute of Applied Sciences, Toulouse, France. Master's thesis (M. Eng.) written in the group of Prof. Dr. Marta Manser (University of Zurich), Topic: "GPS tracking and heart rate monitoring in meerkats: a technical approach".
Awards and grants
- 2012: received the ETH medal for an outstanding doctoral thesis, accompanied by a CHF 1'500 cash prize.
- 2012: travel grant to attend the ALife 13 conference.
- 2012: research grant of the Swiss National Science Foundation to work on the project Payoffs of local and global network structures: reproductive career paths in wild house mice (with F. Schweitzer and B. König): CHF 492'111.
- 2010: 2nd best paper award (200€ prize) at ECCS'10, for the paper A stochastic model of social interaction in wild house mice.
- 2008: Master's thesis selected among the 10 best (out of 400) at INSA Toulouse, for the work GPS tracking and heart rate monitoring in meerkats: a technical approach.