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

Full Professor


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. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. Young macaques (Macaca fascicularis) preferentially bias attention towards closer, older, and better tool users

    Tan, A. W. Y., Hemelrijk, C. K., Malaivijitnond, S. & Gumert, M. D., Jul-2018, In : Animal Cognition. 21, 4, p. 551-563 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  5. Social conformity and propagation of information in collective U-turns of fish schools

    Lecheval, V., Jiang, L., Tichit, P., Sire, C., Hemelrijk, C. K. & Theraulaz, G., 25-Apr-2018, In : Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. 285, 1877, 8 p., 20180251.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Press / Media
  1. Science & Cocktails Amsterdam - The collective motion of flocks of birds with Charlotte Hemelrijk

    Charlotte Hemelrijk


    1 media contribution

    Press/Media: Public Engagement ActivitiesPopular

  2. Welke vis volgt welke vis in de school

    Charlotte Hemelrijk & Valentin Lecheval


    1 media contribution

    Press/Media: ResearchPopular

  3. Intelligente Zwermen

    Charlotte Hemelrijk & Hanno Hildenbrandt


    1 media contribution

    Press/Media: ResearchPopular

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  1. Oratie "Slim of niet? Cognitie of zelforganisatie"

    Charlotte Hemelrijk (Keynote speaker)

    Activity: Talk or presentationProfessional

  2. Invited lecture on Self-organisation of animal social behavior, BEE, Prof. dr. Kay Holekamp

    Charlotte Hemelrijk (Keynote speaker)

    Activity: Talk or presentationProfessional

  3. Lecture for Mathematical Models of Ecology and Evolution, MMEE on starling flocks

    Charlotte Hemelrijk (Keynote speaker)

    Activity: Talk or presentationProfessional

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