Events

Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 4:00pm
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Biological Labs Lecture Hall, Room 1080, 16 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge

OEB Seminar

Deborah Gordon, Stanford University, will give a talk on "The Ecology of Collective Behavior"

Abstract: Like many complex biological systems, an ant colony operates without central control. Each ant responds to its interactions with other ants nearby. In the aggregate, these stochastic, dynamical networks of interaction regulate colony behavior.

Ants are extremely diverse, and species differences in collective behavior reflect relations with diverse environments. A long-term study of desert seed-eating ants shows how colonies regulate foraging activity according to food availability and humidity, and how natural selection is shaping collective behavior in current drought conditions. In the tropical arboreal turtle ant, trail systems respond to the distribution and stability of resources.

The algorithms that generate collective behavior have evolved to fit the dynamics of particular environments, including operating costs and the threat of rupture. Examples from ants provide a starting point for examining more generally the fit between the particular pattern of interaction that regulates collective behavior, and the environment in which it functions

Contact Name: 

Wendy Heywood

Research Areas: 

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

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