One of the most impressing abilities of social insects (and maybe other communities) is the ability to make decisions collectively. Especially in social
insects, where the individual actors follow quite simple “rules”, it is an impressive fact, that the colony as a total is able to solve quite complex problems.
One impressing feature of eusocial animals is their ability to collectively decide between food sources or homing sites. These decisions involve a set of
foragers/scouts (often hundreds of them) to collect information about possible targets independently. The information is somehow shared among colony members and kept persistent for greater periods of time inside the
colony. Special mechanisms (mostly involving positive and negative feedback loops) enable colony members to somehow compare these information, filter for the best ones (from the colony’s point of view) and at the
very end: make a collective decision about a specific foraging targets or a specific homing site.
The ability to first collect information and to process them collectively is one of the base mechanisms to allow a eusocial insect colony to react with
plasticity and to solve to survive, even when the surrounding environment confronts it with complex problems.
The following models on this topic are available:
- Collective foraging decisions of honey bees focussing on the most profitable nectar source (click here)
- Collective foraging decision of ants focusing on the closest food source (click here)
- I am thinking about a naked mole-rat foraging simulation too. (coming sometimes)