Matching Items (3)

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Task allocation and site fidelity jointly influence foraging regulation in honeybee colonies

Description

Variation in behaviour among group members often impacts collective outcomes. Individuals may vary both in the task that they perform and in the persistence with which they perform each task.

Variation in behaviour among group members often impacts collective outcomes. Individuals may vary both in the task that they perform and in the persistence with which they perform each task. Although both the distribution of individuals among tasks and differences among individuals in behavioural persistence can each impact collective behaviour, we do not know if and how they jointly affect collective outcomes. Here, we use a detailed computational model to examine the joint impact of colony-level distribution among tasks and behavioural persistence of individuals, specifically their fidelity to particular resource sites, on the collective trade-off between exploring for new resources and exploiting familiar ones. We developed an agent-based model of foraging honeybees, parametrized by data from five colonies, in which we simulated scouts, who search the environment for new resources, and individuals who are recruited by the scouts to the newly found resources, i.e. recruits. We varied the persistence of returning to a particular food source of both scouts and recruits and found that, for each value of persistence, there is a different optimal ratio of scouts to recruits that maximizes resource collection by the colony. Furthermore, changes to the persistence of scouts induced opposite effects from changes to the persistence of recruits on the collective foraging of the colony. The proportion of scouts that resulted in the most resources collected by the colony decreased as the persistence of recruits increased. However, this optimal proportion of scouts increased as the persistence of scouts increased. Thus, behavioural persistence and task participation can interact to impact a colony's collective behaviour in orthogonal directions. Our work provides new insights and generates new hypotheses into how variations in behaviour at both the individual and colony levels jointly impact the trade-off between exploring for new resources and exploiting familiar ones.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017-08-30

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Identifying robustness in the regulation of collective foraging of ant colonies using an interaction-based model with backward bifurcation

Description

Collective behaviors in social insect societies often emerge from simple local rules. However, little is known about how these behaviors are dynamically regulated in response to environmental changes. Here, we

Collective behaviors in social insect societies often emerge from simple local rules. However, little is known about how these behaviors are dynamically regulated in response to environmental changes. Here, we use a compartmental modeling approach to identify factors that allow harvester ant colonies to regulate collective foraging activity in response to their environment. We propose a set of differential equations describing the dynamics of: (1) available foragers inside the nest, (2) active foragers outside the nest, and (3) successful returning foragers, to understand how colony-specific parameters, such as baseline number of foragers, interactions among foragers, food discovery rates, successful forager return rates, and foraging duration might influence collective foraging dynamics, while maintaining functional robustness to perturbations. Our analysis indicates that the model can undergo a forward (transcritical) bifurcation or a backward bifurcation depending on colony-specific parameters. In the former case, foraging activity persists when the average number of recruits per successful returning forager is larger than one. In the latter case, the backward bifurcation creates a region of bistability in which the size and fate of foraging activity depends on the distribution of the foraging workforce among the model׳s compartments. We validate the model with experimental data from harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex barbatus) and perform sensitivity analysis. Our model provides insights on how simple, local interactions can achieve an emergent and robust regulatory system of collective foraging activity in ant colonies.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
  • 2015-02-21

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Coordinating Individual Behavior in Collective Processes; Seed Choice in Harvester Ants (Pogonomyrmex californicus)

Description

Social animals benefit from the aggregation of knowledge and cognitive processing power. Part of this benefit comes from individual heterogeneity, which provides the basis to group-level strategies, such as division

Social animals benefit from the aggregation of knowledge and cognitive processing power. Part of this benefit comes from individual heterogeneity, which provides the basis to group-level strategies, such as division of labor and collective intelligence. In turn, the outcomes of collective choices, as well as the needs of the society at large, influence the behavior of individuals within it. My dissertation research addresses how the feedback between individual and group-level behavior affects individuals and promotes collective change. I study this question in the context of seed selection in the seed harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex californicus. I use both field and laboratory studies to explore questions relating to individual behavior: how forager decision-making is affected through information available in the nest and at the seed pile; how workers interact with seeds in the nest; and how forager preferences diverge from each other’s and the colony’s preference. I also explore the integration between individual and colony behavior, specifically: how interactions between the foraging and processing tasks affect colony collection behavior; how individual behavior changes affect colony preference changes and whether colony preference changes can be considered learning behavior. To answer these questions, I provided colonies with binary choices between seeds of unequal or similar quality, and measured individual, task group, and colony-level behavior. I found that colonies are capable of learning to discriminate between seeds, and learned information lasts at least one month without seed interaction outside of the nest. I also found that colony learning was coordinated by foragers receiving updated information from seeds in the nest to better discriminate and make choices between seed quality during searches for seeds outside of the nest. My results show that seed processing is essential for stimulating collection of novel seeds, and that foraging and processing are conducted by behaviorally and spatially overlapping but distinct groups of workers. Finally, I found that foragers’ preferences are diverse yet flexible, even when colonies are consistent in their preference at the population level. These combined experiments generate a more detailed and complete understanding of the mechanisms behind the flexibility of collective colony choices, how colonies incorporate new information, and how workers individually and collectively make foraging decisions for the colony in a decentralized manner.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2020