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Many individual decisions are informed by direct comparison of the alternatives. In collective decisions, however, only certain group members may have the opportunity to compare options. Emigrating ant colonies (Temnothorax albipennis) show sophisticated nest-site choice, selecting superior sites even when they are nine times further away than the(More)
SulA halts cell division in Escherichia coli by binding to the major component of the division machinery FtsZ. We have solved the crystal structure of SulA alone and in complex with FtsZ from Pseudomonas aeruginosa. SulA is expressed when the SOS response is induced. This is a mechanism to inhibit cell division and repair DNA in the event of DNA damage.(More)
Flexibility in task performance is essential for a robust system of division of labour. We investigated what factors determine which social insect workers respond to colony-level changes in task demand. We used radio-frequency identification technology to compare the roles of corpulence, age, spatial location and previous activity (intra-nest/extra-nest) in(More)
In socially foraging species resource information can be shared between individuals, increasing foraging success. In ant colonies, nestmate recruitment allows high exploitation rates at known resources however, to maximise foraging efficiency this must be balanced with searching for new resources. Many ant species form colonies inhabiting two or more(More)
An important problem facing organisms in a heterogeneous environment is how to redistribute resources to where they are required. This is particularly complex in social insect societies as resources have to be moved both from the environment into the nest and between individuals within the nest. Polydomous ant colonies are split between multiple spatially(More)
Ant colonies are factories within fortresses (Oster and Wilson 1978). They run on resources foraged from an outside world fraught with danger. On what basis do individual ants decide to leave the safety of the nest? We investigated the relative roles of social information (returning nestmates), individual experience and physiology (lipid stores/corpulence)(More)
Forager ants lay attractive trail pheromones to guide nestmates to food, but the effectiveness of foraging networks might be improved if pheromones could also be used to repel foragers from unrewarding routes. Here we present empirical evidence for such a negative trail pheromone, deployed by Pharaoh's ants (Monomorium pharaonis) as a 'no entry' signal to(More)
Pharaoh's ants organise their foraging system using three types of trail pheromone. All previous foraging models based on specific ant foraging systems have assumed that only a single attractive pheromone is used. Here we present an agent-based model based on trail choice at a trail bifurcation within the foraging trail network of a Pharaoh's ant colony(More)
Worker insects altruistically sacrifice their own reproduction to rear nondescendant kin. This sacrifice reaches its most spectacular level in suicidal colony defense. Suicidal defense, such as when the sting of a honeybee worker embeds in a predator and then breaks off, is normally a facultative response. Here we describe the first example of preemptive(More)
Division of labour is a key factor in the ecological success of social insects. Groups of individuals specializing on a particular behaviour are known as castes and are usually distinguished by morphology or age. Physiology plays a key role in both these types of caste, in either the developmental physiology which determines morphology, or the temporal(More)