Local cost minimization in ant transport networks: from small-scale data to large-scale trade-offs
2015 (English)In: Journal of the Royal Society Interface, ISSN 1742-5689, E-ISSN 1742-5662, Vol. 12, no 112, 20150780Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Transport networks distribute resources and information in many human and biological systems. Their construction requires optimization and balance of conflicting criteria such as robustness against disruptions, transport efficiency and building cost. The colonies of the polydomous Australian meat ant Iridomyrmex purpureus are a striking example of such a decentralized network, consisting of trails that connect spatially separated nests. Here we study the rules that underlie network construction in these ants. We find that a simple model of network growth, which we call the minimum linking model (MLM), is sufficient to explain the growth of real ant colonies. For larger networks, the MLM shows a qualitative similarity with a Euclidean minimum spanning tree, prioritizing cost and efficiency over robustness. We introduce a variant of our model to show that a balance between cost, efficiency and robustness can be also reproduced at larger scales than ant colonies. Remarkably, such a balance is influenced by a parameter reflecting the specific features of the modelled transport system. The extended MLM could thus be a suitable source of inspiration for the construction of cheap and efficient transport networks with non-zero robustness, suggesting possible applications in the design of human-made networks.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 12, no 112, 20150780
transport networks, network growth model, graph theory, ant collective behaviour, ant colony, network optimization
Other Natural Sciences Mathematics Other Biological Topics
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-268402DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2015.0780ISI: 000363987900009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-268402DiVA: diva2:878498