(480) 727-9425 Stephen.Pratt@asu.edu

Collective choice of the best food source

Collective choice of the best food source

Temnothorax ants also make group decisions about food, and we are studying how these choices emerge from the ants’ individual behavior, in particular their recruitment communication via tandem runs. The positive feedback of recruitment is fundamental to all forms of collective decision-making, but differences among recruitment behaviors have major impacts on group performance. Tandem runs are quite different from the highly nonlinear recruitment of trail-laying ants, instead showing essential similarities to the waggle dance of the honey bee, despite superficial differences. We have found that this linearity means that colonies allocate foragers to different food sources according to their quality, rather than making a full commitment of all foragers to the best source, as is typical for mass-recruiting ants. Temnothorax also differ from mass-recruiters in the readiness with which they shift effort from one source to another if their relative quality changes. These results show how the subtle details of communication behavior can have major impacts on group-level outcomes.


Posted on

June 14, 2020