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Task partitioning in insect societies. II. Use of queueing delay information in recruitment

By F.L.W. Ratnieks and C. Anderson


The collection and handling of colony resources such as food, water, and nest-construction material is often divided into subtasks in which the material is passed from one worker to another. This is known as task partitioning. If task; are partitioned with direct transfer of material between foragers and receivers, queueing delays can occur as individuals search or wait for a transfer partner. Changes in environmental conditions and relative number of foragers and receivers affect these delays as well as colony ergonomic efficiency. These delays are used in recruitment in both honeybees and Polybia wasps. This study investigates the distribution of queueing delays and the information content and quality of those delays using a stochastic-simulation model. Information quality increases with colony size. When the relative proportions of foragers and receivers are suboptimal, the group in excess has better information. Individuals can increase information quality of delays by two mechanisms: averaging over consecutive trips and averaging over multiple transfers within a trip where direct transfer occurs. We suggest that multiple transfer occurs in the honeybee in order to improve information quality. \u

Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Year: 1999
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