Collective decision making in social organism societies involves a large network of communication systems. Studying the processes behind the transmission of information allows for greater understanding of the decision making capabilities of a group. For Temnothorax rugatulus colonies, information is commonly spread in the form of tandem running, a linear recruitment pattern where a leading ant uses a short-ranged pheromone to direct a following ant to a target location (in tandem).The observed phenomenon of reverse tandem running (RTR), where a follower is lead from a target back to the home nest, has not been as extensively studied as forward tandem running and transportation recruitment activities. This study seeks to explain a potential reason for the presence of the RTR behavior; more specifically, the study explores the idea that reverse tandem run followers are being shown a specific route to the home nest by a highly experienced and efficient leading ant. Ten colonies had migrations induced experimentally in order to generate some reverse tandem running activity. Once an RTR has been observed, the follower and leader were studied for behavior and their pathways were analyzed. It was seen that while RTR paths were quite efficient (1.4x a straight line distance), followers did not experience a statistically significant improvement in their pathways between the home and target nests (based on total distance traveled) when compared to similar non-RTR ants. Further, RTR leading ants were no more efficient than other non-RTR ants. It was observed that some followers began recruiting after completion of an RTR, but the number than changed their behavior was not significant. Thus, the results of this experiment cannot conclusively show that RTR followers are utilizing reverse tandem runs to improve their routes between the home and target nests.
- The analysis of reverse tandem running of Temnothorax rugatulus colonies
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