Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 201–213

On foraging, recruitment systems and optimum number of scouts in eusocial colonies

  • K. Jaffe
  • J. L. Deneubourg
Research Articles

DOI: 10.1007/BF01249295

Cite this article as:
Jaffe, K. & Deneubourg, J.L. Ins. Soc (1992) 39: 201. doi:10.1007/BF01249295


A numerical model of an eusocial colony foraging for food showed that, for each set of values of resource density, resource size and recruitment system employed, a given optimal proportion of scouts in the colony maximize the amount of resources retrieved by a colony during a fixed period. The model predicts that ants using mass recruitment systems should have larger colonies with small foragers, and should forage on large food sources. Retrieval of small food sources by small colonies is best achieved with large workers using individual foraging strategies. For mass foragers, several food sources are best retrieved using democratic decision-making systems in recruitment, whereas for very large food sources at very low mean food patch density, autocratic decision-making systems are optimal. Some of the experimental evidence available is discussed in the light of these findings, as they confirm the prediction that large colonies with small workers have mass recruitment systems, whereas workers of small colonies with large workers are generally lone foragers.

Key words

Foraging recruitment colonies social insects ants 

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Jaffe
    • 1
  • J. L. Deneubourg
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Biologia de OrganismosUniversidad Simon BolivarCaracasVenezuela
  2. 2.Service de Chimie PhysiqueUniversite Libre de BruxellesBruxellesBelgium

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