Unravelling the effects of group composition on individual and collective behavior in a clonal ant
Giacomo Alciatore, Giacomo Alciatore , Yuko Ulrich
Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Switzerland; Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Switzerland ; Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Social insect colonies display some of the most sophisticated collective behavior in the animal kingdom, but this complexity arises from relatively simple individual behavior. Within colonies, individuals interact frequently, thereby sharing resources and information; the sum of these interactions can be envisioned as an interaction network. Because individuals often interact with nestmates according to their behavioral role in the colony (i.e. their task preference), the interaction network is expected to be affected by group composition and behavioral variance among individuals. In many ant species task preference has been linked to individual age and genotype. How does the distribution of these two individual traits across colony members affect network structure? How do individuals of the same age and genotype behave in different social environments? Do we observe different interaction patterns in groups of different composition, or is the interaction network resilient to change in group composition? We will describe interaction networks in small colonies of the clonal raider ant Ooceraea biroi obtained using an automated tracking system. The unique biology of this parthenogenetic ant allows us to precisely manipulate and replicate colony age and genetic structure. We will compare network properties (e.g. clustering, density or degree heterogeneity) across social groups of different age structure (composed of either a single or mixed age cohorts) and genetic structure (composed of either a single or mixed genotypes). This will allow us to study the behavioral plasticity of highly similar individuals in groups of different composition. These results will contribute to our understanding of the effects of group composition and individual behavioral plasticity on colony collective behavior and interaction networks.