Ant Encounters: Interaction Networks and Colony Behavior (Primers in Complex Systems)
By: Deborah M. Gordon (author)Paperback
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How do ant colonies get anything done, when no one is in charge? An ant colony operates without a central control or hierarchy, and no ant directs another. Instead, ants decide what to do based on the rate, rhythm, and pattern of individual encounters and interactions--resulting in a dynamic network that coordinates the functions of the colony. Ant Encounters provides a revealing and accessible look into ant behavior from this complex systems perspective. Focusing on the moment-to-moment behavior of ant colonies, Deborah Gordon investigates the role of interaction networks in regulating colony behavior and relations among ant colonies. She shows how ant behavior within and between colonies arises from local interactions of individuals, and how interaction networks develop as a colony grows older and larger. The more rapidly ants react to their encounters, the more sensitively the entire colony responds to changing conditions. Gordon explores whether such reactive networks help a colony to survive and reproduce, how natural selection shapes colony networks, and how these structures compare to other analogous complex systems.
Ant Encounters sheds light on the organizational behavior, ecology, and evolution of these diverse and ubiquitous social insects.
Deborah M. Gordon is professor of biology at Stanford University. She is the author of" Ants at Work" (Norton).
List of Illustrations ix Preface xi Chapter 1: The Ant Colony as a Complex System 1 Chapter 2: Colony Organization 14 The Diversity of Ant Behavior 14 From Individual to Collective Behavior 19 Division of Labor 25 Ants Switch Tasks 30 Age Polyethism 33 What Ants Respond To 37 Task Allocation 41 Chapter 3: Interaction Networks 45 What Happens at Network Nodes 47 The Pattern of Interaction Is the Message 49 Rate and Memory 57 Individual Variation 83 Species Differences 67 Chapter 4: Colony Size 75 Colony Growth 75 Task Allocation and Colony Size 83 Ecology, Behavior, and Mature Colony Size 90 Chapter 5: Relations with Neighbors 96 Relations with Neighbors of the Same Species 97 Interactions between Species 107 Invasive Species 112 From Ecology to Behavior 117 Chapter 6: Ant Evolution 121 Coevolution of Ants and Plants 121 Evolution of Colony Organization 125 Natural Selection in Action 131 Chapter 7: Modeling Ant Behavior 141 Notes 147 Index 165
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