Professor Dora Biro

Research Interests

My research interests concern the mechanisms and consequences of social living and social organisation in animals. I work with two very different study systems, examining group decision-making and social learning in the context of navigation by homing pigeons, and the emergence and maintenance of culture among wild chimpanzees. The aim of this work is to understand, through a combination of empirical and mathematical modelling approaches, how social collectives are shaped by the individuals of which they are composed.

My particular interests focus on how individuals with conflicting knowledge or preferences resolve their differences, and what information is exchanged between group members during socially-mediated learning – these are fundamental questions of group living. In addition, I also continue to undertake research on the role of vision in avian navigation (with collaborators in the departments of Zoology and Engineering Science at Oxford), developmental aspects of tool-using skills in wild chimpanzees, and symbolic and numerical cognition in captive chimpanzees (in collaboration with colleagues at the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University, Japan).

Selected Publications


Martin, C.F., Biro, D. & Matsuzawa, T. (2017). Chimpanzees spontaneously take turns in a shared serial ordering task.  Scientific Reports 7, 14307.

Sasaki, T. & Biro, D. (2017). Cumulative culture can emerge from collective intelligence in animal groups. Nature Communications 8, 15049.

Watts, I., Nagy, M., Burt de Perera, T. & Biro, D. (2016). Misinformed leaders lose influence over pigeon flocks. Biology Letters 12, 20160544.

Biro, D., Sasaki, T. & Portugal, S. (2016). Bringing a time-depth perspective to collective animal behaviour. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 31, 550-562.

Pettit, B., Ákos, Z., Vicsek, T. & Biro, D. (2015). Speed determines leadership and leadership determines learning during pigeon flocking. Current Biology 25, 3132–3137.

Flack, A., Biro, D., Guilford, T. & Freeman, R. (2015). Modelling group navigation: Transitive social structures improve navigational performance. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 12: 20150213

Nesterova, A., Flack, A., van Loon, E., Marescot, Y., Bonadonna, F. & Biro, D. (2014). Resolution of navigational conflict in King Penguin chicks. Animal Behaviour, 93, 221-228.

Flack, A. & Biro, D. (2013). Collective learning in route navigation. Communicative & Integrative Biology, 6 (6), e26521.

Biro, D., Haslam, M. & Rutz, C. (eds.) (2013). Tool Use as Adaptation. Theme Issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.  368 (1630).

Nagy, M., Vasarhelyi, G., Pettit, B., Roberts-Mariani, I., Vicsek, T. & Biro, D. (2013). Context-specific hierarchies in pigeons. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A., 110, 13049-13054.

Pettit, B., Flack, A., Freeman, R., Guilford, T. & Biro, D. (2013). Not just passengers: Pigeons, Columba livia, can learn homing routes while flying with a more experienced conspecific. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B, 280, 20122160. 

Carvalho, S.*, Biro, D.*, Cunha, E., Hockings, K., McGrew, W. C., Richmond, B. G., & Matsuzawa, T. (2012). Chimpanzee carrying behaviour and the origins of human bipedality. Current Biology, 22, R180-R181. 

Martin, C., Biro, D., & Matsuzawa, T. (2011). Chimpanzees’ use of conspecific cues in matching-to-sample tasks: Public information use in a fully automated testing environment. Animal Cognition, 14, 893-902.

Nagy, M., Ákos, Z., Biro, D., & Vicsek, T. (2010). Hierarchical group dynamics in pigeon flocks. Nature, 464, 890-893. 

Biro, D., Freeman, R., Meade, J., Roberts, S.J., & Guilford, T. (2007). Pigeons combine compass and landmark guidance in familiar route navigation Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. 104, 7471-7476

Biro, D., Inoue-Nakamura, N., Tonooka, R., Yamakoshi, G., Sousa, C., & Matsuzawa, T. (2003). Cultural innovation and transmission of tool use in wild chimpanzees: Evidence from field experiments. Animal Cognition, 6, 213-223

Biro, D. & Matsuzawa, T. (2001). Use of numerical symbols by the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes): Cardinals, ordinals, and the introduction of zero. Animal Cognition, 4, 193-199. 

List of site pages