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Individual variation and positive feedback initiate aggregation in Lasius japonicus

Abstract

Aggregation is the most basic collective behaviour in social animals, including ants. The objective of this study was to investigate the role of initial fluctuation and positive feedback in the aggregation mechanism of the ant Lasius japonicus. To analyse the initial process of aggregation, we collected detailed behavioural data from a limited number of individuals. The results indicated that a voluntarily pausing individual was necessary for the occurrence of aggregation and also that individual variation contributed to aggregation size. To describe the role of individual variation and positive feedback in the initiation of aggregation, we developed a mathematical model that showed similar characteristics to the Monte Carlo simulation. Overall, this study suggests that individual variation and positive feedback markedly change the collective behaviour of ants.

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Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Hideo Iwasaki and Yukio-Pegio Gunji for their comments on the manuscript. I also thank Hiraku Nishimori and Atsuko Takamatsu, as well as the staff of the Iwasaki and Takamatsu Labs, for their technical support.

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Correspondence to Shumpei Hisamoto.

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All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

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Hisamoto, S. Individual variation and positive feedback initiate aggregation in Lasius japonicus. J Ethol 37, 31–39 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10164-018-0564-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10164-018-0564-x

Keywords

  • Ants
  • Collective behaviour
  • Polyethism
  • Monte Carlo simulation
  • Interaction
  • Direct contact
  • Swarm behaviour