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Collective choice in ants: The role of protein and carbohydrates ratios
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Mathematics and Computer Science, Department of Mathematics.
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2014 (English)In: Journal of insect physiology, ISSN 0022-1910, E-ISSN 1879-1611, Vol. 69, 19-26 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In a foraging context, social insects make collective decisions from individuals responding to local information. When faced with foods varying in quality, ants are known to be able to select the best food source using pheromone trails. Until now, studies investigating collective decisions have focused on single nutrients, mostly carbohydrates. In the environment, the foods available are a complex mixture and are composed of various nutrients, available in different forms. In this paper, we explore the effect of protein to carbohydrate ratio on ants' ability to detect and choose between foods with different protein characteristics (free amino acids or whole proteins). In a two-choice set up, Argentine ants Linepithema humile were presented with two artificial foods containing either whole protein or amino acids in two different dietary conditions: high protein food or high carbohydrate food. At the collective level, when ants were faced with high carbohydrate foods, they did not show a preference between free amino acids or whole proteins, while a preference for free amino acids emerged when choosing between high protein foods. At the individual level, the probability of feeding was higher for high carbohydrates food and for foods containing free amino acids. Two mathematical models were developed to evaluate the importance of feeding probability in collective food selection. A first model in which a forager deposits pheromone only after feeding, and a second model in which a forager always deposits pheromone, but with greater intensity after feeding. Both models were able to predict free amino acid selection, however the second one was better able to reproduce the experimental results suggesting that modulating trail strength according to feeding probability is likely the mechanism explaining amino acid preference at a collective level in Argentine ants.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 69, 19-26 p.
Keyword [en]
Collective decision, Nutrition, Protein, Amino acids, Foraging, Recruitment, Ants
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-237320DOI: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2014.04.002ISI: 000343341200004PubMedID: 24751909OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-237320DiVA: diva2:767568
Available from: 2014-12-01 Created: 2014-12-01 Last updated: 2014-12-01Bibliographically approved

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Nicolis, Stamatios C.
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