Professor Howard Zebker

Fall 2001-2002

Date: Wednesday, October 3, 2001
Time: 4:15 PM; Refreshments at 4:00 PM
Location: 460-334

Ant networks

Prof. Deborah Gordon
Dept. of Biological Sciences Stanford University


Ant colonies operate without central control. Task allocation is the process that allows the colony to adjust the numbers of ants engaged in each task, in a way appropriate to the current situation. Since no ant directs the behavior of others, task decisions must be based on fairly simple, local information. Studies of the red harvester ant indicate that an ant uses the rate of interaction with others as a cue in deciding which task to perform, and when to perform it. Task allocation in old, large colonies differs from that in young, small ones. This raises the question of how decisions based on interaction rates produce different dynamics depending on colony size.