Ants complex adaptive systems cs 591 april 16 2008 prof melanie moses
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Ants Complex Adaptive Systems, CS 591 April 16, 2008 Prof. Melanie Moses. Basic Ant Biology. All ants are eusocial The colony is the unit of selection Queen(s): reproducers, not masterminds Reproductives: winged male and female alates Workers: female, short lived compared to queens

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Ants complex adaptive systems cs 591 april 16 2008 prof melanie moses

AntsComplex Adaptive Systems, CS 591 April 16, 2008Prof. Melanie Moses


Basic ant biology
Basic Ant Biology

  • All ants are eusocial

    • The colony is the unit of selection

      • Queen(s): reproducers, not masterminds

      • Reproductives: winged male and female alates

      • Workers: female, short lived compared to queens

    • Genetic sex determination

      • Haplodiploidy

      • Sociobiology

    • Division of labor:

      • All males are reproductive

      • female caste determined by environment & larval feeding

      • Allows learning, farming, herding, fishing(?!)…

  • Communication primarily through pheromones

  • Self organization (dumb ants, smart colonies)



Ant diversity
Ant Diversity

“Lean against a tree almost anywhere, and the first creature that crawls on you will probably be an ant.” Holldobler and Wilson, Journey to the Ants (1995)

  • In the world: 1016 ants; 10,000 spp.

  • Colony size: ~10 to 10 million workers per colony

  • Diversity decreases with latitude

  • Ants live everywhere

    • Soils

    • Leaf litter

    • Tree canopy

    • In or under logs, rocks,sidewalk cracks, your house

  • Ants eat everything

    • Seeds

    • Nectar (honey pots)

    • Leaves/fungus

    • Other insects (esp. termites)

    • Each other


The new world atta leaf cutters
The New World AttaLeaf cutters



Army ants
Army Ants

Photos by Steven Holt

http://www.stockpix.com/stock/animals/invertebrates/arthropods/insects/ants/


Army ants1
Army Ants

Photos by Alex Wild

SWRS, Portal, AZ

www.myrmecos.net


Worker castes
Worker castes

“Human societies send their young men to war, and colonies send their old ladies.” Holldobler and Wilson, The Ants (1990)

Old workers take on dangerous tasks

Many spp have morphological differences in castes

Trend toward increasing caste differentiation in large colonies

  • Foragers

  • Nurses

  • Soldiers,

  • Scouts & patrollers

  • Nest maintenance workers

  • Repletes



Ant colony lifecycle
Ant Colony Lifecycle

  • Queens and males fly from nests to mate

  • Male dies

  • Queen mates 1+ times, drops wings, digs nest

  • 1st season: queen may forage or rely on stored fat

  • After 1st workers emerge: queen remains in nest

  • First workers forage to feed themselves and the queen

  • Very high mortality of juvenile colonies



Ant movement
Ant Movement

  • Migration by founding queens

  • Colony movements

    • Relocations

    • Polydomous colonies

    • Army ants/bivouacs

  • Worker movements

    • Patrollers

    • Nest maintenance, midden work

    • Foragers

  • Foraging with pheromones:

    • information exchange, “stigmergy”, positive feedbacks & the social optimum



Pogonomyrmex spp
Pogonomyrmex spp.

  • Monogynous, monodomous, monomorphic

  • Stationary colonies

  • Sterile workers

  • Similar

    • behavior

    • diet (seeds, termites)

    • ant size (13-23 mg)

  • Foraging period set by temperature & humidity

  • Colony lifespan: up to 20 years

  • Guilds of spp. associated w/ climate & elevation (Johnson 2000)


Colony size
Colony size

2003 & 2004

Sevilleta LTER

2003 Portal, AZ

P. rugosus

1500-2500 foragers/colony

P. maricopa

150-250 foragers/colony

P. desertorum

40-100 foragers/colony


Foraging in ant colonies
Foraging in Ant Colonies

Workers organize to increase the survival and reproduction of the colony without central control

Colony metabolism is determined by foraging success:

foragers collect all of the food that the colony consumes

Colony population size ranges from 10 to 10 million

There are costs and benefits to increased size

How does colony size influence acquisition of energy and information?

How do foraging networks scale with the size of the colony?

How does network scaling affect colony behavior?

Model and field study of Pogonomyrmex (seed harvesting ants)


Big colonies need big territories
Big colonies need big territories

Longer foraging trips require more energy & reduce energy intake rates