Natures wonders: ant colony complexity (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Wednesday, October 21, 2015, 01:17 (1402 days ago) @ David Turell

The more tunnel connections, the more food they gather:

"A UC San Diego study of the underground "architecture" of harvester ant nests has found that the more connected the chambers an ant colony builds near the surface entrance, the faster the ants are able to collect nearby sources of food.

"The reason is simple: Increased connectivity among chambers leads to more social interactions among the ants within the nest. So when one group of ants within a colony--comprised of individuals working toward a common goal--finds a particularly good source of food, it's able to more quickly communicate that finding to the rest of the colony.

"'The volume of the chambers has little influence on the speed of recruitment, suggesting that the spatial organization of a nest has a greater impact on collective behavior than the number of workers it can hold," said Noa Pinter-Wollman, a biologist at UC San Diego who conducted the study.


"Pinter-Wollman said her study was the first to find a link between a "naturally occurring nest architecture and the collective actions of the colony that resides in it." While more interconnected chambers near the entrance to the nest provides an advantage to food recruitment, she noted that there is also a downside to having too many chambers near the surface. Such an architecture could introduce structural instabilities that would cause the chambers to collapse during rains when the ground is softened, she noted.

"'After a prolonged drought like the one we're experiencing in California, severe storms, such as those anticipated later this year, could cause flooding and destroy these upper structures," she said. "It would be interesting to see if, after the predicted El Niño, harvester ants build deeper chambers than they have in previous years.'"

Comment: Great societal cooperation.

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