Ant vs. Colony: Who makes the calls?

Ant vs. Colony: Who makes the calls?

Soft Condensed Matter & Physics of Living Systems


May 24, 2017 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm


Howey - School of Physics




Weizmann Institute of Science

Cooperative groups often exhibit capabilities that exceed those of their individual members. On the other hand, collective actions may wash out crucial knowledge held out by individual group members. This talk will present the conflict between a group and the individuals that comprise it in the context of cooperative load retrieval by longhorn crazy ants. This behavior relies on the group to exert a large enough force to move the large load but also on the navigational capabilities of individual insects. 

We show how an ant group creates large scale coordination while preserving the influence of transiently informed individuals. Further, we show how emergent processes kick in when these individuals fail to supply the group with useful directions. This system provides an example of the way collective cognition simultaneously draws on all organizational levels of a complex biological ensemble.