International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI2018), August 5-10, 2018 in Guarujá, Brazil.

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Stop and go: Exploring alternative mechanisms for division of labor in social insects

Author(s):
Colin Michael Lynch, Colin Michael Lynch , Robert Wilson , Nicole Leitner , Anna Dornhaus
Institution(s):
University of Arizona Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, USA; University of Arizona Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, USA ; University of Arizona Department of Psychology, USA ; University of Arizona Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, USA ; University of Arizona Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, USA
The response threshold hypothesis posits that social insects divide labor by employing workers with differing reactivity to signals. The point at which an ant responds to a task-associated stimulus is the response threshold. Individuals with a low response threshold for a particular task become specialists in this task, because they start to work on the task early, when the need is still low. Few studies, however, consider whether variation in task performance across individuals is driven by differences in when individuals stop, rather than start, working on a task. We coin the term ‘satisfaction threshold’ to refer to the level of stimulus at which workers are satisfied (and therefore leave a task). Here, we used non-spatial individual-based numeric simulations and nonlinear dynamics analysis to test the ability of response and satisfaction threshold models to drive down the amount of work in the environment while reducing the amount of time ants spend working.
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