The synchronized flashing of fireflies at night. The spiraling patterns of an aggregating slime mold. The anastomosing network of army-ant trails. The coordinated movements of a school of fish. Researchers are finding in such patterns--phenomena that have fascinated naturalists for centuries--a fertile new approach to understanding biological systems: the study of self-organization. This book, a primer on self-organization in biological systems for students and other enthusiasts, introduces readers to the basic concepts and tools for studying self-organization and then examines numerous examples of self-organization in the natural world. Self-organization refers to diverse pattern formation processes in the physical and biological world, from sand grains assembling into rippled dunes to cells combining to create highly structured tissues to individual insects working to create sophisticated societies. What these diverse systems hold in common is the proximate means by which they acquire order and structure. In self-organizing systems, pattern at the global level emerges solely from interactions among lower-level components.
Remarkably, even very complex structures result from the iteration of surprisingly simple behaviors performed by individuals relying on only local information. This striking conclusion suggests important lines of inquiry: To what degree is environmental rather than individual complexity responsible for group complexity? To what extent have widely differing organisms adopted similar, convergent strategies of pattern formation? How, specifically, has natural selection determined the rules governing interactions within biological systems? Broad in scope, thorough yet accessible, this book is a self-contained introduction to self-organization and complexity in biology--a field of study at the forefront of life sciences research.
Scott Camazine is the author of "The Naturalist's Year" and "Velvet Mites and Silken Webs". Jean-Louis Deneubourg is Research Fellow at the Belgian Fund for Scientific Research and at the Centre for Non-Linear Phenomena and Complex Systems at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, where he is also Professor of Behavioral Ecology. Nigel R. Franks is Professor of Animal Behavior and Ecology at the University of Bristol and the coauthor of "The Social Evolution of Ants" (Princeton). James Sneyd is Associate Professor of Mathematics at Massey University, New Zealand and the coauthor of "Mathematical Physiology". Guy Theraulaz is Research Fellow at the National Center for Scientific Research in Toulouse, France, and at Paul Sabatier University. Eric Bonabeau is Chief Scientist at EuroBios in Paris, France. Bonabeau and Theraulaz are coauthors of "Swarm Intelligence: From Natural to Artificial Systems".
Explanation of Color Plates vii Prologue: Aims and Scope of the Book 2 Part I. Introduction to Biological Self-Organization 5 Chapter 1. What Is Self-Organization? 7 Chapter 2. How Self-Organization Works 15 Chapter 3. Characteristics of Self-Organizing Systems 29 Chapter 4. Alternatives to Self-Organization 47 Chapter 5. Why Self-Organization? 63 Chapter 6. Investigation of Self-Organization 69 Chapter 7. Misconceptions about Self-Organization 88 Part II. Case Studies 93 Chapter 8. Pattern Formation in Slime Molds and Bacteria 95 Chapter 9. Feeding Aggregations of Bark Beetles 121 Chapter 10. Synchronized Flashing among Fireflies 143 Chapter 11. Fish Schooling 167 Chapter 12. Nectar Source Selection by Honey Bees 189 Chapter 13. Trail Formation in Ants 217 Chapter 14. The Swarm Raids of Army Ants 257 Chapter 15. Colony Thermoregulation in Honey Bees 285 Chapter 16. Comb Patterns in Honey Bee Colonies 309 Chapter 17. Wall Building by Ants 341 Chapter 18. Termite Mound Building 377 Chapter 19. Construction Algorithms in Wasps 405 Chapter 20. Dominance Hierarchies in Paper Wasps 443 Part III. Conclusions 483 Chapter 21. Lessons, Speculations, and the Future of Self-Organization 485 Notes 495 References 497 Index 525