ESA Annual Meetings Online Program

0700 Bees in a box: collective decision-making by the ant Temnothorax rugatulus during foraging

Monday, November 14, 2011: 8:03 AM
Room D7, First Floor (Reno-Sparks Convention Center)
Zachary Shaffer , School of Life Sciences and Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Stephen C. Pratt , School of life Science, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Positive feedback is important in the coordination of animal groups. Collective decision-making in the social insects provides some classic examples, specifically in trail-laying ants and honeybees. Mathematical linearity in recruitment has been invoked to explain the dynamics seen in social insect foraging. An ant trail grows more attractive with each additional recruiter, while the waggle dance of the honeybee retains the same attractiveness regardless of the number of recruiters. But not all ants utilize trail recruitment. Another behavior, the tandem run, is utilized by some species including Temnothorax rugatulus. In terms of mathematical linearity, tandem-running is more similar to the waggle dance than to trail recruitment. Does Temnothorax collective foraging resemble honeybees or other ants? In foraging choice experiments we have found that Temnothorax foraging dynamics are similar to honeybees, demonstrating a similar level of flexibility and choice. Given equal feeders, they allocate foragers equally. If unequal feeders are provided and then switched in location mid-way through an experiment, Temnothorax colonies can re-allocate their foraging effort to the new location of the better feeder. We are currently documenting the individual behavior that underlies this group-level performance.

doi: 10.1603/ICE.2016.58096

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