Individual Rules for Trail Pattern Formation in Argentine Ants (Linepithema humile)
2012 (English)In: PloS Computational Biology, ISSN 1553-734X, E-ISSN 1553-7358, Vol. 8, no 7, e1002592- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Many ant species produce large dendritic networks of trails around their nest. These networks result from self-organized feedback mechanisms: ants leave small amounts of a chemical -a pheromone- as they move across space. In turn, they are attracted by this same pheromone so that eventually a trail is formed. In our study, we introduce a new image analysis technique to estimate the concentrations of pheromone directly on the trails. In this way, we can characterise the ingredients of the feedback loop that ultimately leads to the formation of trails. We show that the response to pheromone concentrations is linear: an ant will turn to the left with frequency proportional to the difference between the pheromone concentrations on its left and right sides. Such a linear individual response was rejected by previous literature, as it would be incompatible with the results of a large number of experiments: trails can only be reinforced if the ants have a disproportionally higher probability to select the trail with higher pheromone concentration. However, we show that the required non-linearity does not reside in the perceptual response of the ants, but in the noise associated with their movement.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 8, no 7, e1002592- p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-180968DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002592ISI: 000306842200017OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-180968DiVA: diva2:552388