prof. dr. C.K. (Charlotte) Hemelrijk

Full Professor

prof. dr. C.K. (Charlotte) Hemelrijk


Research units:

Research interests

Research field: Self-organization in social systems

We are interested in all aspects of self-organisation in social systems. In our models we try to produce complex phenomena by self-organisation as a side-effect of interactions of individuals with their environment. At present our focus is on predatory attacks of schools of fish and flocks of birds and on social systems of birds and primates.

 Predatory attacks

Model of flocking starlings A fundamental evolutionary question is whether and how the guidance strategy of birds of prey during aerial hunting has been shaped by natural selection. To answer this, we need to integrate mechanism and function in an evolutionary study (Evo-mecho approach). For this, we use a computational model within the framework of complexity science. Our aim is to:

1. Gain insight how evolution may have shaped the prey-targeting system depending on the prey’s biomechanics and behaviour,
2. elucidate the interplay between pursuit-evasion tactics, behavioural timing, biomechanics, flight control, prey-targeting and catch rate,
3. generate and verify predictions in real raptors in cooperation with the Oxford Animal Flight Group, UK.

Collective escape by swarms

From the perspective of the prey, we aim to gain understanding about collective patterns of escape. In a combined modeling and empirical study in cooperation with University of Toulouse, France, we investigate the collective response of a school of fish when being attacked by a predator. Our aim is to:

1. Gain insight in the process of transmission of information about the predator,
2. elucidate how the different kinds of escape response relate to the strategy of the predator and the collective pattern of escape of prey, and
3. find out by what behavior the prey confuses the predator.

 Energetic advantages of schooling

Hydrodynamic model of a swimming mulletIn fish schools we study the hydrodynamic effects and energetic benefits of schooling.


Social behavior in primates and corvids

In primates we are investigating the self-organisation of inter-sexual dominance. We develop new measures of dominance style.

Evolution at multiple scales

Using the example of mother-infant carrying we study evolution at multiple scales in computational models with the University of St Andrews, UK. 

  1. Damping of waves of agitation in starling flocks

    Hemelrijk, C. K., Costanzo, A., Hildenbrandt, H. & Carere, C., Sep-2019, In : Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 73, 9, 7 p., 125.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  2. Waves of terror in Starling flocks: Specific reactions of Starling flocks to predator attacks

    Hemelrijk, C., 29-Jun-2015

    Research output: Non-textual formWeb publication/siteProfessional

  3. Sexual size dimorphism, prey morphology and catch success in relation to flight mechanics in the peregrine falcon: A simulation study

    Mills, R., Taylor, G. K. & Hemelrijk, C. K., Mar-2019, In : Journal of Avian Biology. 50, 3, 14 p., 01979.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  4. Complex patterns of collective escape in starling flocks under predation

    Storms, R. F., Carere, C., Zoratto, F. & Hemelrijk, C. K., 19-Jan-2019, In : Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 73, 1, 10 p., 10.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  5. Physics-based simulations of aerial attacks by peregrine falcons reveal that stooping at high speed maximizes catch success against agile prey

    Mills, R., Hildenbrandt, H., Taylor, G. K. & Hemelrijk, C. K., Apr-2018, In : PLoS Computational Biology. 14, 4, 38 p., 1006044.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Press / Media
  1. Waarom zwermende spreeuwen niet botsen

    Charlotte Hemelrijk


    1 item of Media coverage

    Press/Media: Public Engagement ActivitiesPopular

  2. Science & Cocktails Amsterdam - The collective motion of flocks of birds with Charlotte Hemelrijk

    Charlotte Hemelrijk


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Public Engagement ActivitiesPopular

  3. Welke vis volgt welke vis in de school?

    Charlotte Hemelrijk & Valentin Lecheval


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: ResearchAcademic

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  1. Kenniscafé: Succesvol samenwerken

    Charlotte Hemelrijk (Advisor)

    Activity: ConsultancyOutreachPopular

  2. Ik, mezelf en de massa

    Charlotte Hemelrijk (Advisor)

    Activity: ConsultancyOutreachPopular

  3. De Wetenschap Draait Door: Samenwerking bij dieren

    Charlotte Hemelrijk (Advisor)

    Activity: ConsultancyOutreachPopular

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