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

Franks NR, Stuttard JP, Doran C, Esposito JC, Master MC, Sendova-Franks AB, Masuda N, Britton NF - Sci Rep (2015)

Bottom Line: 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.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol.

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.

No MeSH data available.


The numbers of ants within each of the nests, constant of mediocre quality and fluctuating, through time for each of the three treatments.Treatment was the percentage of time the fluctuating nest was good vs poor quality; label meaning is as in caption to Fig. 2. The different colours represent the 27 different colonies, which made a nest choice during 44 out of a total of 60 emigrations of 30 colonies. Seventeen colonies are represented twice because they made a nest choice in both of the treatments they underwent. To guide the eye, the points for each combination of nest type and treatment over time are fitted by a Loess curve with an Epanechnikov kernel.
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f3: The numbers of ants within each of the nests, constant of mediocre quality and fluctuating, through time for each of the three treatments.Treatment was the percentage of time the fluctuating nest was good vs poor quality; label meaning is as in caption to Fig. 2. The different colours represent the 27 different colonies, which made a nest choice during 44 out of a total of 60 emigrations of 30 colonies. Seventeen colonies are represented twice because they made a nest choice in both of the treatments they underwent. To guide the eye, the points for each combination of nest type and treatment over time are fitted by a Loess curve with an Epanechnikov kernel.

Mentions: On average the number of ants increased significantly over time both in the Mediocre nest and in each of the three types of Fluctuating nest (the time coefficient was significantly different from 0, with t-values in the range of 5.850 to 11.876, d.f. = 1152 and p < 0.001 in each case; Fig. 3). When the Fluctuating nest was 25% G : 75% P, the accumulation rate in the Mediocre nest was significantly higher than in the Fluctuating nest (time coefficients 0.022 and 0.013, respectively, t = 3.728, d.f. = 1152, p < 0.001, Fig. 3). By contrast, when the Fluctuating nest was 50% G : 50% P, the accumulation rate in the Mediocre nest was significantly lower than in the Fluctuating nest (time coefficients 0.010 and 0.019, respectively, t = −4.218, d.f. = 1152, p < 0.001, Fig. 3). The accumulation rate in the Mediocre nest was also lower than in the Fluctuating nest when the latter was 75% G : 25% P but this difference was not statistically significant (time coefficients 0.013 and 0.014, respectively, t = −0.337, d.f. = 1152, p = 0.736, Fig. 3). There was no significant difference in the accumulation rate in the Mediocre nest when the Fluctuating nest was 50% G : 50% P compared to when it was 75% G : 25% P but the accumulation rates in the Fluctuating nest were significantly different (t = −1.364, p = 0.173 and t = 2.543, p = 0.011, respectively, d.f. = 1152 in both cases; Fig. 3).


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

Franks NR, Stuttard JP, Doran C, Esposito JC, Master MC, Sendova-Franks AB, Masuda N, Britton NF - Sci Rep (2015)

The numbers of ants within each of the nests, constant of mediocre quality and fluctuating, through time for each of the three treatments.Treatment was the percentage of time the fluctuating nest was good vs poor quality; label meaning is as in caption to Fig. 2. The different colours represent the 27 different colonies, which made a nest choice during 44 out of a total of 60 emigrations of 30 colonies. Seventeen colonies are represented twice because they made a nest choice in both of the treatments they underwent. To guide the eye, the points for each combination of nest type and treatment over time are fitted by a Loess curve with an Epanechnikov kernel.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4495386&req=5

f3: The numbers of ants within each of the nests, constant of mediocre quality and fluctuating, through time for each of the three treatments.Treatment was the percentage of time the fluctuating nest was good vs poor quality; label meaning is as in caption to Fig. 2. The different colours represent the 27 different colonies, which made a nest choice during 44 out of a total of 60 emigrations of 30 colonies. Seventeen colonies are represented twice because they made a nest choice in both of the treatments they underwent. To guide the eye, the points for each combination of nest type and treatment over time are fitted by a Loess curve with an Epanechnikov kernel.
Mentions: On average the number of ants increased significantly over time both in the Mediocre nest and in each of the three types of Fluctuating nest (the time coefficient was significantly different from 0, with t-values in the range of 5.850 to 11.876, d.f. = 1152 and p < 0.001 in each case; Fig. 3). When the Fluctuating nest was 25% G : 75% P, the accumulation rate in the Mediocre nest was significantly higher than in the Fluctuating nest (time coefficients 0.022 and 0.013, respectively, t = 3.728, d.f. = 1152, p < 0.001, Fig. 3). By contrast, when the Fluctuating nest was 50% G : 50% P, the accumulation rate in the Mediocre nest was significantly lower than in the Fluctuating nest (time coefficients 0.010 and 0.019, respectively, t = −4.218, d.f. = 1152, p < 0.001, Fig. 3). The accumulation rate in the Mediocre nest was also lower than in the Fluctuating nest when the latter was 75% G : 25% P but this difference was not statistically significant (time coefficients 0.013 and 0.014, respectively, t = −0.337, d.f. = 1152, p = 0.736, Fig. 3). There was no significant difference in the accumulation rate in the Mediocre nest when the Fluctuating nest was 50% G : 50% P compared to when it was 75% G : 25% P but the accumulation rates in the Fluctuating nest were significantly different (t = −1.364, p = 0.173 and t = 2.543, p = 0.011, respectively, d.f. = 1152 in both cases; Fig. 3).

Bottom Line: 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.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol.

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.

No MeSH data available.