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Collective Dynamics of Sleep

Project description

The first ever look at the collective sleep dynamics of animal groups

Sleep is fundamentally tied to physical and cognitive well-being. Many studies have evaluated the effects of sleep, albeit primarily in individuals in sleep laboratories. The intricate dynamics of group behaviours and their role in sleep patterns are inaccessible with these methods. The European Research Council-funded CO-SLEEP project will integrate technology into observational methods to measure and model the collective dynamics of sleep among wild baboons. The team will follow and monitor 30 troops of wild baboons using GPS and accelerometry tracking, 3D laser scanning, thermal videography and advanced computational modelling. CO-SLEEP’s study is the first to measure the collective sleep behaviour of animal groups in a socially and ecologically relevant context.


Sleep is a biological imperative for all animals: insufficient sleep can have detrimental effects on individuals’ health, cognition, social functioning and overall fitness. Even among gregarious species, sleep has largely been studied in lone individuals in laboratory settings, divorced from relevant socio-ecological context, limiting our ability to understand how social environments shape, and are shaped by, the sleep patterns of their members. My goal is to bring the study of sleep into the collective context, understand how social processes structure the sleep patterns of individuals, groups and populations, and test how gregarious animals navigate the opportunities and constraints imposed by sleeping as part of a group. To do this, I will integrate cutting-edge technologies with traditional field-observation methods to measure and model the collective dynamics of sleep among wild baboons. To continuously monitor movement, position, and sleep of baboons at the individual, group, and population levels, I will use GPS and accelerometry tracking of members of 30 troops of wild baboons. This will be combined with 3-D laser scanning of the physical sleep environment, overnight thermal videography, sleep-disruption field experiments, focal sampling of social behaviors, and advanced computational modeling to shed light on how differentiated and multi-faceted social relationships shape individual and collective sleep decisions, and how these decisions, in turn, shape the overall social dynamics of groups. This ground-breaking project will be the first to measure the collective sleep behavior of animal groups in a socially and ecologically relevant context. As such, it has the potential to shed wholly new light on social and ecological trade-offs that gregarious species – like our own – must balance to satisfy the biological imperative of sleep.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 2 912 102,00
78464 Konstanz

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Baden-Württemberg Freiburg Konstanz
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 2 912 102,00

Beneficiaries (1)