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ScienceShot: The 'I' in Ant

26 August 2011 12:50 pm
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Ants are renowned for their hive mind: most decisions are made by the colony as a whole and not by individuals. But when an ant colony's nest is destroyed, the insects rely on the advice of individuals, according to a study published online this week in The Journal of Experimental Biology. Researchers created artificial nests and foraging areas for ten colonies of Temnothorax albipennis ants. After a week, the team destroyed the original nest, forcing the ants to relocate. As the researchers watched the ants on their house hunt, they noticed that the ants that scouted for good locations to find food headed straight for an alternate nest site that they had discovered earlier in their travels. The scout ants then recruited other members of the colony to the new nest site. The study, says the researchers, shows that individuals play a much larger role in ant society than previously thought.

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