Home > Papers from 2015 > Influence of learnability on collective decisions

Influence of learnability on collective decisions

Individual and collective navigation have been well studied in ants, but the interaction between the two is less well understood. Indeed, it often appears that individual and collective navigation are studied by two distinct groups of researchers. In the experiments detailed in this Grüter et al paper, we do get some sense of the interaction between individual and collective processes. In T-maze set-ups, certain types of route are favoured: those that leave the ant on the outermost part of the maze (LL or RR choices in this study, though the ants actually turn LRL or RLR) or those marked by conspicuous visual cues. These collective preferences are shown to emerge not from an innate bias, but because they lead to experienced individuals having lower error rates and completing routes more quickly. Thus routes that are ‘good’ or ‘easy’ for individuals can emerge as the colony choice even when not discovered first.


Grüter, C., Maitre, D., Blakey, A., Cole, R., & Ratnieks, F. L. (2015). Collective decision making in a heterogeneous environment: Lasius niger colonies preferentially forage at easy to learn locations. Animal Behaviour, 104, 189-195.

Categories: Papers from 2015
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