CBER Research Talk - Professor Deborah Gordon - 22 May 2018

Start: May 22, 2018 01:00 PM
End: May 22, 2018 02:00 PM

The ecology of collective behaviour

Title: "The ecology of collective behaviour"
Speaker: Professor Deborah Gordon - Department of Biology, Stanford University (lab page)
Venue: G04 Anatomy Gavin de Beer LT (map)
Dr Seirian Sumner (email)
Like many biological systems, an ant colony operates without central control. Each ant responds to its interactions with other ants nearby. In the aggregate, these stochastic, dynamical networks of interaction regulate colony behaviour.
Ants are extremely diverse, and species differences in collective behaviour reflect relations with diverse environments. A long-term study of desert seed-eating ants shows how colonies regulate foraging activity according to food availability and humidity, and how natural selection is shaping collective behaviour in current drought conditions. In the tropical arboreal turtle ant, trail networks respond to the distribution and stability of resources.
The algorithms that generate collective behaviour have evolved feedback regimes that fit the dynamics of particular environments. Examples from ants provide a starting point for examining more generally the fit between the particular pattern of interaction that regulates collective behaviour, and the environment in which it functions.