Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Shy v. bold at the colony level

with 2 comments

In the Guide I discuss two mindsets: explorers and settlers. Explorers are risk-tolerant and novelty seeking, looking for any excuse to try something new; settlers are risk-averse and prefer the familiar, looking for any excuse to stick with the status quo. I mention that the same differences are seen in the animal kingdom, where they are generally called “bold” and “shy” respectively.

Now it’s found that these different mindsets (if one can call it that) can even be observed in ant colonies at the colony level. (This is not so surprising if you think the difference is genetic, since the ants in a colony are offspring of the same mother.) In Science Claire Asher reports:

. . . Some [ant] colonies are full of adventurous risk-takers, whereas others are less aggressive about foraging for food and exploring the great outdoors. Researchers say that these group “personality types” are linked to food-collecting strategies, and they could alter our understanding of how social insects behave.

Personality—consistent patterns of individual behavior—was once considered a uniquely human trait. But studies since the 1990s have shown that animals from great tits to octopuses exhibit “personality.” Even insects have personalities. Groups of cockroaches have consistently shy and bold members, whereas damselflies have shown differences in risk tolerance that stay the same from grubhood to adulthood.

To determine how group behavior might vary between ant colonies, a team of researchers led by Raphaël Boulay, an entomologist at the University of Tours in France, tested the insects in a controlled laboratory environment. They collected 27 colonies of the funnel ant (Aphaenogaster senilis) and had queens rear new workers in the lab. This meant that all ants in the experiment were young and inexperienced—a clean slate to test for personality.

The researchers then observed how each colony foraged for food and explored new environments. They counted the number of ants foraging, exploring, or hiding during set periods of time, and then compared the numbers to measure the boldness, adventurousness, and foraging efforts of each group. They also measured risk tolerance by gradually increasing the temperature of the ants’ foraging area from 26°C to 60°C. Ants that stayed out at temperatures higher than 46°C, widely considered to be the upper limit of their tolerance, were considered risk-takers.

When they reviewed their data, . . .

Continue reading.

There’s quite a bit more, and it’s interesting.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 August 2015 at 8:45 am

Posted in Daily life, Science, Shaving

2 Responses

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  1. Interesting post. I’ll have to read the whole article. Temperament certainly has a genetic component. My frateral twin boys have had very different personalities since birth.

    Brian Trepka

    31 August 2015 at 10:13 am

  2. One interesting thing in the article is how ant colonies at the northern (harsh) extreme of the range have a much bolder “personality” than the colonies of the same species farther south because of different selection pressures from the environment.

    LeisureGuy

    31 August 2015 at 11:12 am


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