Posted: August 27, 2011 by Wildcat in Uncategorized

Some worker ants are more equal than others. As with other social insects, it was once thought that workers were essentially equivalent in ant colony hierarchies. But it appears that a few well-informed individuals shape group decisions by leading nestmates to new homes. The findings could add a new dimension to ant-derived models of self-organization. “Although self-organized systems appear very effective under the assumption that all individuals follow the same simple set of rules, the presence of key, well-informed individuals altering their behavior according to their prior experience might generally enhance performance even further,” wrote biologists from the University of Bristol and the University of Toulouse in an Aug. 24 Journal of Experimental Biology paper. To study nest-hunting, Nathalie Stroeymeyt and colleagues Nigel Franks and Martin Giurfa collected “house-hunting” ants, or Temnothorax albipennis, from the southern coast of the United Kingdom. These small, light-brown ants make simple sand-enclosed nests in the cracks of rocks. (via Pioneering Ants Challenge Self-Organization Assumptions | Wired Science | Wired.com)

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