How ants use quorum sensing to estimate the average quality of a fluctuating resource

Nigel R. Franks, Jonathan P. Stuttard, Carolina Doran, Julian C. Esposito, Maximillian C. Master, Ana B. Sendova-Franks, Naoki Masuda, Nicholas F. Britton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

We show that one of the advantages of quorum-based decision-making is an ability to estimate the average value of a resource that fluctuates in quality. By using a quorum threshold, namely the number of ants within a new nest site, to determine their choice, the ants are in effect voting with their feet. Our results show that such quorum sensing is compatible with homogenization theory such that the average value of a new nest site is determined by ants accumulating within it when the nest site is of high quality and leaving when it is poor. Hence, the ants can estimate a surprisingly accurate running average quality of a complex resource through the use of extraordinarily simple procedures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11890
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalScientific Reports
Volume5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2015

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    Franks, N. R., Stuttard, J. P., Doran, C., Esposito, J. C., Master, M. C., Sendova-Franks, A. B., Masuda, N., & Britton, N. F. (2015). How ants use quorum sensing to estimate the average quality of a fluctuating resource. Scientific Reports, 5, 1-12. [11890]. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep11890