telephone number (Australia)
This page is currently under work following my move to the University of Adelaide.
ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, on the Waite Campus, University of Adelaide.
I work on experimental and theoretical studies of insect collective behaviour and its application to agriculture and pest control. My team currently focuses on locust hopper bands, ant and termite colonies.
Current opportunities for Honours, PhD and Postdoc projects
Are you interested in studying locust mass movement using drones and cutting edge computer simulations? Would you like to bring a new light on the evolution of sociality and group living by studying collective foraging and nutrition in insects? I am starting the Insect Collective Behaviour team at the University of Adelaide. Contact me for Honours, PhD (APA available) and Postdoc opportunities.
Current research projects - Insect Collective Behaviour
Locust collective movement
To develop a better understanding of locust collective movement, we are combining lab and field experiments (which involve innovative techniques such as tracking individuals with a UAV) with computer simulations, which allow us to simulate up to millions of locusts using CUDA (parrallel computation on graphic cards). Ultimately, our goal is to build a model that will provide control operations with a better knowledge of band movement and trajectories so that improved methods such as barrier spraying can be optimized.
Collective nutrition in social insects
Nutrition is at the centre of most collective behaviour phenomena. In social insects such as ants and termites, foraging is handled by a sub-group of workers who not only have to fulfil their own nutritional requirements but also provide the rest of the colony with the nutrients they require. How does the information pertaining to the nutritional state of the colony flows and how do workers adapt their foraging strategies in order to achieve efficient communal nutrition? We will tackle these questions using a combination of lab experiments, tracking nutrients with fluorescent dies and individuals with RFID tags and computer vision, and computer simulations implementing the behaviour and nutritional processes as well as their evolution.
Very often in Nature, phenomena appearing at a "macroscopic" level (e.g. a group of animals or a tissue) result from a multitude of interaction at a lower "microscopic" level (e.g. a massive number of individual animals or cells) in a way that appears to be emergent and hard to predict. Linking these two levels, or more generally, bridging the gaps between scales is a topic that never ceases to fascinate me.
To achieve this goal, I use methods originated from the framework of self-organization and non-linear systems, where models are used to predict how local rules at the microscopic level result in patterns observed at the macroscopic level. Models are built using a thorough experimental quantification of behaviour and interactions at the individual or microscopic level - this is a bottom-up approach where the rules used in the model correspond, as much as possible, to mechanisms observed and measured empirically.
Once the model is implemented, its predictions about the collective patterns, or macroscopic level, are compared to experimental results. Such cycles of studies involving both experiments and models have been successfully applied to social insect collective behaviour such as foraging and trail formation, nest construction, division of labour etc... They are increasingly used to study other animal collective behaviour such as fish schools, bird flocks, or locust marching bands and swarms (my current favourite model system), but have been and will more and more be used to study organization of large groups of microscopic organisms, cells or any complex phenomena observed in biological systems.
Why are these questions important? They're a key to understand how animal societies work, which is fascinating enough by itself in my opinion, but it's also opening new perspectives in understanding the evolution of sociality, and even more broadly, understanding how things organize at a level from the complex interactions happening at a lower level is probably holding many exciting new insights about evolution of life in general.
Previous employement /education
- 2004: PhD - Doctorat de l'Universite Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France. Etude experimentale et modelisation de la morphogenese des reseaux de galeries chez la fourmi Messor sancta. (An experimental and theoretical study of the morphogenesis of tunnel networks in the ant Messor sancta).
- 2005: Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Oxford (with Steve Simpson, Iain Couzin and David Sumpter).
2006-2014: Postdoctoral researcher at the School of Biological Sciences, The University of Sydney.
See also:Julie-Anne Popple webpage
Gautrais J., Buhl J., Valverde S., Kuntz P., Theraulaz G. The role of colony size on tunnel branching morphogenesis in ant nests. PLOS One, in press.
Lihoreau M., Buhl J., Charleston M., Sword G.A., Raubenheimer D., Simpson S.J (2014) Modelling nutrition across organizational levels: from individual to superorganisms. Journal of Insect Physiology, DOI: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2014.03.004
Buhl J., Sword G.A., Simpson S.J. (2012) Using field data to test locust migratory band collective movement models. Interface Focus, 2:757-763
Cummings D. O., Buhl J., Lee R. W., Simpson
S. J., Holmes S. P. (2012) Can estimates of niche
Hansen M. J., Buhl J., Bazazi S., Simpson S.
J., Sword G. A. (2011) Cannibalism in the lifeboat –
Buhl J., Sword G. A., Clissold F. J., Simpson S. J. (2011) Group structure in locust migratory bands. Behavioral Ecology And Sociobiology, 65:265-273
Escudero C., Yates, C.A., Buhl J., Couzin I. D., Erban R., Kevrekidis I. G., Maini P.K. (2010) Ergodic Directional Switching in Mobile Insect Groups. Physical Review E, 82,011926
Yates, C.A., Erban R., Escudero C., Couzin I. D., Buhl J., Kevrekidis I. G., Maini P.K., Sumpter D. J. (2009) Inherent noise can facilitate coherence in collective swarm motion. PNAS, 106:5464-5469
Buhl J., Hicks K., Miller E. R., Persley S., Alinvi O., Sumpter D. J. (2009) Shape and efficiency of wood ant foraging networks. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 63:451-460
Sumpter D. J., Buhl J., Biro D., Couzin I. D. (2008) Information transfer in moving animal groups. Theory in Biosciences, 127:177-186
Bazazi S., Buhl J., Hale J. J., Anstey M. L., Sword G. A., Simpson S. J., Couzin I. D. (2008) Collective Motion and Cannibalism in Locust Migratory Bands. Current Biology, 18:735-739ARTICLE
Buhl J., Gautrais J., Deneubourg, J.L., Kuntz P., Theraulaz. (2006) The growth and form of tunnelling networks in ants. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 243, 287-298. PDF
Buhl, J., Sumpter, D.J.,
Couzin, I.D., Hale, J., Despland, E, Miller, E & Simpson, S.J.
(2006) From disorder to order in
marching locusts. Science,
Buhl J., Gautrais J., Reeves N., Sole R.V., Valverde S., Kuntz P., Theraulaz G. (2006) Topological patterns in street networks of self-organized urban settlements. European Physical Journal B, 49, 513-522.PDF
Buhl J., Deneubourg J.L., Grimal A. and Theraulaz G. (2005) Self-organized digging activity in ant colonies. Behavioral Sociobiology and Ecology. 58, 9-17.ARTICLE
Buhl J., Gautrais J., Sole R.V., Kuntz P., Valverde S., Deneubourg J.L., Theraulaz G. (2004) Efficiency and robustness in ant networks of galleries. European Physical Journal B, 42, 123-129.PDF
Buhl J., Gautrais J., Deneubourg J.L. and Theraulaz G. (2004) Nest excavation in ants: group size effects on the size and structure of tunneling networks. Naturwissenschaften, 92:602-606
Buhl J., Deneubourg J.L., Theraulaz G. (2002) Self-Organized Networks of Galleries in the Ant Messor Sancta, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2463:163-175
Right: Laboratory exporimental set-up allowing us to study locust marching in controlled conditions and using automated computer tracking. Left: A prototype of reflective tag glued to a locust nymph. These tags will allow us to track individual locusts in the field using an autonomous UAV equipped with a strobe and a camera (tracking method developped by the Australian Centre for Field Robotics).
Marching locusts in Western Australia during the 2007 outbreak.
©2010 - Video footage and pictures can only be used if credit is given to me, Jerome Buhl • E-mail me