Can ant colonies choose a far-and-away better nest over an in-the-way poor one?

Article English OPEN
Franks, Nigel R. ; Hardcastle, Katherine A. ; Collins, Sophie ; Smith, Faith D. ; Sullivan, Kathryn M. E. ; Robinson, Elva J. H. ; Sendova-Franks, Ana B. (2008)
  • Subject: 1105 | 1103

Nest choice in the ant Temnothorax albipennis is a model system for investigating collective decision making. Previous research has demonstrated the sophistication of this decentralized system, yet such studies have focused on binary choices in which alternative nest sites are equidistant from the colony's original nest. In nature, for example, a poor nest might be closer than a better one. Hence, to investigate the collective decision-making system of these ants further, we challenged colonies with a choice between a distant high-quality nest and a much closer and collinear poorer one. Colonies successfully emigrated to the better nest when it was two, three or even nine times further away than the collinear poorer one. Most often, colonies started emigrating simultaneously to both nests, and then they redirected all traffic exclusively to the better, more distant one. We show that this is a good strategy for minimizing exposure and risk. In principle these ants might compensate for distance effects by increasing recruitment latencies and quorum thresholds at nearby poor nests so that they are better able to find and use distant better ones. However, the simplest explanation is that scouts are more likely to begin to look elsewhere, at all stages of the decision-making and emigration process, whenever and wherever they have initially found a low-quality nest. (c) 2008 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
  • References (32)
    32 references, page 1 of 4

    Berg, A. & Greenfield, M. D. 2005. Sexual selection in insect choruses: influences of call power and relative timing. Journal of Insect Behavior, 18, 59e75.

    Britton, N. F., Franks, N. R., Pratt, S. C. & Seeley, T. D. 2002. Deciding on a new home: how do honeybees agree? Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B, 269, 1383e1388. doi:10.1098/rspb.2002.2001.

    Camazine, S., Deneubourg, J.-L., Franks, N. R., Sneyd, J., Theraulaz, G. & Bonabeau, E. 2001. Self-organization in Biological Systems. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

    Conradt, L. & Roper, T. J. 2005. Consensus decision making in animals. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 20, 449e456. doi:10.1016/ j.tree.2005.05.008.

    Couzin, I. D., Krause, J., Franks, N. R. & Levin, S. A. 2005. Effective leadership and decision-making in animal groups on the move. Nature, 433, 513e516. doi:10.1038/nature03236.

    Dornhaus, A., Franks, N. R., Hawkins, R. M. & Shere, H. N. S. 2004. Ants move to improve: colonies of Leptothorax albipennis emigrate whenever they find a superior nest site. Animal Behaviour, 67, 959e963. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2003.09.004.

    Franks, N. R. & Richardson, T. 2006. Teaching in tandem-running ants. Nature, 439, 153.

    Franks, N. R., Pratt, S. C., Mallon, E. B., Britton, N. F. & Sumpter, D. J. T. 2002. Information flow, opinion polling and collective intelligence in house-hunting social insects. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B, 375, 1567e1583.

    Franks, N. R., Dornhaus, A., Fitzsimmons, J. P. & Stevens, M. 2003a. Speed versus accuracy in collective decision-making. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B, 270, 2457e 2463. doi:10.1098/rspb.2003.2527.

    Franks, N. R., Mallon, E. B., Bray, H. E., Hamilton, M. J. & Mischler, T. C. 2003b. Strategies for choosing among alternatives with different attributes: exemplified by househunting ants. Animal Behaviour, 65, 215e223. doi:10.1006/ anbe.2002.2032.

  • Metrics
    No metrics available
Share - Bookmark