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Czaczkes, Tomer Joseph (2012)
Languages: English
Types: Doctoral thesis
Subjects: QL0568.F7
In social insects, foraging is often cooperative, and so requires considerable organisation. In most ants, organisation is a bottom-up process where decisions taken by individuals result in emergent colony level patterns. Individuals base their decisions on their internal state, their past experience, and their environment. By depositing trail pheromones, for example, ants can alter the environment, and thus affect the behaviour of their nestmates. The development of emergent patterns depends on both how individuals affect the environment, and how they react to changes in the environment.\ud \ud Chapters 4 – 9 investigate the role of trail pheromones and route memory in the ant Lasius niger. Route memories can form rapidly and be followed accurately, and when route memories and trail pheromones contradict each other, ants overwhelmingly follow route memories (chapter 4). Route memories and trail pheromones can also interact synergistically, allowing ants to forage faster without sacrificing accuracy (chapter 5). Home range markings also interact with other information sources to affect ant behaviour (chapter 6). Trail pheromones assist experienced ants when facing complex, difficult-to-learn routes (chapter 7). When facing complicated routes, ants deposit more pheromone to assist in navigation and learning (chapter 7). Deposition of trail pheromones is suppressed by ants leaving a marked path (chapter 5), strong pheromone trails (chapter 7) and trail crowding (chapter 8). Colony level ‘decisions’ can be driven by factors other than trail pheromones, such as overcrowding at a food source (chapter 9). Chapter 10 reviews the many roles of trail pheromones in ants.\ud \ud Chapters 11 – 14 focus on the organisation of cooperative food retrieval. Pheidole oxyops workers arrange themselves non-randomly around items to increase transport speeds (chapter 11). Groups of ants will rotate food items to reduce drag (chapter 12). Chapters 13 and 14 encompass the ecology of cooperative transport, and how it has shaped trail pheromone recruitment in P. oxyops and Paratrechina longicornis. Lastly, chapter 15 provide a comprehensive review of cooperative transport in ants and elsewhere.

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