Home > Papers from 2011 > Optimisation of small scale foraging routes

Optimisation of small scale foraging routes

The consensus view within our field is that much of the navigational prowess of social insects is based on the learning of procedural instructions for route guidance. One interesting question involves the extent to which routes can be optimised based on the locations that need to be visited – something akin to the travelling salesman problem. Mathieu Lihoreau and colleagues have been studying these questions with bumblebees learning routes in a small-scale flight chamber. The basic result is that bees will produce near optimal routes to visit a set of feeders. In this pair of papers, Lihoreau et al follow-up on this result by asking whether routes emerge from a nearest neighbour rule (they don’t) and whether the optimisation of routes is based on resource quality as well as distance (it is). 2012 promises to be a fascinating year for this project as at the recent Bielefeld workshop Mathieu previewed results from a large scale version of the experiment – and we all await the articles from these experiments.

Lihoreau M, Chittka L, Le Comber SC, Raine NE. (2011). Bees do not use nearest-neighbour rules for optimization of multi-location routes. Biology Letters.
Lihoreau M, Chittka L, Raine NE. (2011). Trade-off between travel distance and prioritization of high reward sites in traplining bumblebees. Functional Ecology, 25:1284-1292.

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Categories: Papers from 2011
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