Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Team Approach Appears To Work Best For Insect Colonies

Date:
March 30, 2009
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
Ants and bees have long been recognized as tireless workers, but now new research suggests they behave like model citizens, too. Unlike herds of bison or shoals of fish -- where individuals may appear to be team players but actually behave according to their own interests -- some animals, including ants and bees, really do have the best interests of the group at heart.

Ants cooperating to create a bridge for others to carry food back.
Credit: iStockphoto/Hung Meng Tan

Ants and bees have long been recognized as tireless workers, but now new research suggests they behave like model citizens, too.

Unlike herds of bison or shoals of fish -- where individuals may appear to be team players but actually behave according to their own interests -- some animals, including ants and bees, really do have the best interests of the group at heart.

The study's findings appear to echo the insect worlds portrayed in the animated films Antz and Bee Movie, in which the characters live in rigidly conformist societies.

Scientists from the Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford reached their conclusion by creating a mathematical model to study the manner in which cooperative groups of animals, known as superorganisms, evolve.

The study identifies that there are two scenarios in which a group can act as a unit. The first is when all the members are very closely related, and carry the same genes, so ensuring their genes are passed on to the next generation. The second is when the group's behaviour is controlled by a form of policing –in honey bee hives, for example, any egg not laid by the queen is destroyed by worker bees, to ensure only the queen's offspring survive. Both methods ensure that all the individuals involved are united in a common purpose.

Dr Andy Gardner, from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, said: "We often see animals appearing to move in unison, such as bison or fish. However, what looks like a team effort is in fact each animal jostling to get to the middle of the group to evade predators.

"By contrast, an ant nest or a beehive can behave as a united organism in its own right. In a beehive, the workers are happy to help the community, even to die, because the queen carries and passes on their genes.

"However, superorganisms are quite rare, and only exist when the internal conflict within a social group is suppressed – so we cannot use this term, for example, to describe human societies."

This research is funded by the Royal Society.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gardner et al. Capturing the superorganism: a formal theory of group adaptation. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 2009; 22 (4): 659 DOI: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2008.01681.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Team Approach Appears To Work Best For Insect Colonies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090327124423.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2009, March 30). Team Approach Appears To Work Best For Insect Colonies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090327124423.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Team Approach Appears To Work Best For Insect Colonies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090327124423.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins