, Volume 6, Issue 6, pp 751-759

Modulation of trail laying in the antLasius niger (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and its role in the collective selection of a food source

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Foragers of the ant Lasius nigerexploiting a 1 Msugar source were found to lay 43 %more trail marks than those exploiting a 0.05 or a 0.1 Msource. The trail laying per forager decreased during the course of individual recruitment episodes, and the mean lifetime of the trail pheromone was estimated to be 47 min. A mathematical function describing the probability that a forager chooses one of two paths in relation to the amount of trail pheromone on them closely fitted experimental data. These results were incorporated into a model describing the recruitment dynamics of L. niger.Simulations of this model showed that the observed modulation of trail laying with respect to food source quality is sufficient in itself to account for the systematic selection of the richer source seen in the experiments.