Linear recruitment leads to allocation and flexibility in collective foraging by ants

Zachary Shaffer, Takao Sasaki, Stephen Pratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Positive feedback in communication is central to the emergence of collective behaviour in animal groups. The nonlinearity hypothesis predicts that group behaviour will be defined in large part by the degree of cooperative interaction in this feedback. Strong interactions mean that the effectiveness of communication grows nonlinearly with signal quantity, leading to robust spatial patterning and consensus decision making. These predictions have been supported in many experimental systems, but the corresponding behaviour of linear systems, where signal effectiveness is proportional to signal quantity, has not been well explored. We examined the consequences of tandem running, a linear method of recruitment, for collective decision making by foraging colonies of the ant Temnothorax rugatulus. We found that colonies collectively chose the better of two unequal feeders, but they allocated foragers equally when feeders were identical. This result accords with theoretical predictions and contrasts with symmetry breaking seen in species with highly nonlinear trail pheromone recruitment. Colonies were also able to reallocate foragers when the quality of two unequal feeders was switched, again in accord with theoretical expectations. We built a model based upon the behaviour of individual ants and found that colony-level qualities of choice, allocation and flexibility can be predicted by two behaviours: quality-dependent linear recruitment and quality-dependent attrition. These experiments are the first thorough investigation of the consequences of linear recruitment for collective animal behaviour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)967-975
Number of pages9
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Volume86
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2013

Fingerprint

group behavior
ant
Formicidae
foraging
animal communication
decision making
Temnothorax
communication
trail pheromones
prediction
pheromone
animal behavior
nonlinearity
cooperatives
symmetry
eclosion
allocation
animal
animals
experiment

Keywords

  • Ant
  • Collective foraging
  • Communication
  • Cooperation
  • Decision making
  • Linear recruitment
  • Tandem running
  • Temnothorax rugatulus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Linear recruitment leads to allocation and flexibility in collective foraging by ants. / Shaffer, Zachary; Sasaki, Takao; Pratt, Stephen.

In: Animal Behaviour, Vol. 86, No. 5, 11.2013, p. 967-975.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Shaffer, Zachary ; Sasaki, Takao ; Pratt, Stephen. / Linear recruitment leads to allocation and flexibility in collective foraging by ants. In: Animal Behaviour. 2013 ; Vol. 86, No. 5. pp. 967-975.
@article{5a08216720b84bcfb8d6281f14fca00b,
title = "Linear recruitment leads to allocation and flexibility in collective foraging by ants",
abstract = "Positive feedback in communication is central to the emergence of collective behaviour in animal groups. The nonlinearity hypothesis predicts that group behaviour will be defined in large part by the degree of cooperative interaction in this feedback. Strong interactions mean that the effectiveness of communication grows nonlinearly with signal quantity, leading to robust spatial patterning and consensus decision making. These predictions have been supported in many experimental systems, but the corresponding behaviour of linear systems, where signal effectiveness is proportional to signal quantity, has not been well explored. We examined the consequences of tandem running, a linear method of recruitment, for collective decision making by foraging colonies of the ant Temnothorax rugatulus. We found that colonies collectively chose the better of two unequal feeders, but they allocated foragers equally when feeders were identical. This result accords with theoretical predictions and contrasts with symmetry breaking seen in species with highly nonlinear trail pheromone recruitment. Colonies were also able to reallocate foragers when the quality of two unequal feeders was switched, again in accord with theoretical expectations. We built a model based upon the behaviour of individual ants and found that colony-level qualities of choice, allocation and flexibility can be predicted by two behaviours: quality-dependent linear recruitment and quality-dependent attrition. These experiments are the first thorough investigation of the consequences of linear recruitment for collective animal behaviour.",
keywords = "Ant, Collective foraging, Communication, Cooperation, Decision making, Linear recruitment, Tandem running, Temnothorax rugatulus",
author = "Zachary Shaffer and Takao Sasaki and Stephen Pratt",
year = "2013",
month = "11",
doi = "10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.08.014",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "86",
pages = "967--975",
journal = "Animal Behaviour",
issn = "0003-3472",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",
number = "5",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Linear recruitment leads to allocation and flexibility in collective foraging by ants

AU - Shaffer, Zachary

AU - Sasaki, Takao

AU - Pratt, Stephen

PY - 2013/11

Y1 - 2013/11

N2 - Positive feedback in communication is central to the emergence of collective behaviour in animal groups. The nonlinearity hypothesis predicts that group behaviour will be defined in large part by the degree of cooperative interaction in this feedback. Strong interactions mean that the effectiveness of communication grows nonlinearly with signal quantity, leading to robust spatial patterning and consensus decision making. These predictions have been supported in many experimental systems, but the corresponding behaviour of linear systems, where signal effectiveness is proportional to signal quantity, has not been well explored. We examined the consequences of tandem running, a linear method of recruitment, for collective decision making by foraging colonies of the ant Temnothorax rugatulus. We found that colonies collectively chose the better of two unequal feeders, but they allocated foragers equally when feeders were identical. This result accords with theoretical predictions and contrasts with symmetry breaking seen in species with highly nonlinear trail pheromone recruitment. Colonies were also able to reallocate foragers when the quality of two unequal feeders was switched, again in accord with theoretical expectations. We built a model based upon the behaviour of individual ants and found that colony-level qualities of choice, allocation and flexibility can be predicted by two behaviours: quality-dependent linear recruitment and quality-dependent attrition. These experiments are the first thorough investigation of the consequences of linear recruitment for collective animal behaviour.

AB - Positive feedback in communication is central to the emergence of collective behaviour in animal groups. The nonlinearity hypothesis predicts that group behaviour will be defined in large part by the degree of cooperative interaction in this feedback. Strong interactions mean that the effectiveness of communication grows nonlinearly with signal quantity, leading to robust spatial patterning and consensus decision making. These predictions have been supported in many experimental systems, but the corresponding behaviour of linear systems, where signal effectiveness is proportional to signal quantity, has not been well explored. We examined the consequences of tandem running, a linear method of recruitment, for collective decision making by foraging colonies of the ant Temnothorax rugatulus. We found that colonies collectively chose the better of two unequal feeders, but they allocated foragers equally when feeders were identical. This result accords with theoretical predictions and contrasts with symmetry breaking seen in species with highly nonlinear trail pheromone recruitment. Colonies were also able to reallocate foragers when the quality of two unequal feeders was switched, again in accord with theoretical expectations. We built a model based upon the behaviour of individual ants and found that colony-level qualities of choice, allocation and flexibility can be predicted by two behaviours: quality-dependent linear recruitment and quality-dependent attrition. These experiments are the first thorough investigation of the consequences of linear recruitment for collective animal behaviour.

KW - Ant

KW - Collective foraging

KW - Communication

KW - Cooperation

KW - Decision making

KW - Linear recruitment

KW - Tandem running

KW - Temnothorax rugatulus

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84886281796&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84886281796&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.08.014

DO - 10.1016/j.anbehav.2013.08.014

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84886281796

VL - 86

SP - 967

EP - 975

JO - Animal Behaviour

JF - Animal Behaviour

SN - 0003-3472

IS - 5

ER -