Insectes Sociaux, the official journal of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects, has published an article resulting from research by Assistant Professor of Biology Susan Willson, with Ivan Ramler and Rich Sharp, both of mathematics, computer science and statistics.
The article, "Spatial movement optimization in Amazonian Eciton burchellii army ants," will appear in the print edition of the journal later this year, but is available online now.
The abstract states, in part, "Foraging army ants face a problem general to many animals - how best to confront resource depletion and environmental heterogeneity. Army ants have presumably evolved a nomadic lifestyle as a way to minimize re-exploitation of previously foraged areas. However, this solution creates a challenge for an army ant colony: foraging by this colony and others creates a shifting landscape of food resources, where colonies should theoretically avoid their own previous foraging paths as well as those of other colonies. Here, we examine how colonies exploit this resource mosaic, using some of the optimality arguments first proposed and tested by Franks and Fletcher (1983), but with much larger data sets in a new location in SW Amazonia."
The Sciences at St. Lawrence
Posted: June 8, 2011