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J. theor. Biol. (2002) 215, 363373 doi:10.1006/jtbi.2001.2506, available online at http://www.idealibrary.com on

Summary: J. theor. Biol. (2002) 215, 363­373
doi:10.1006/jtbi.2001.2506, available online at http://www.idealibrary.com on
Emergent Polyethism as a Consequence of Increased Colony Size
in Insect Societies
Jacques Gautraisw, Guy Theraulazw*, Jean-Louis Deneubourgz
and Carl Andersony
wLaboratoire d'Ethologie et Cognition Animale, CNRS-ERS 2382, Universit!e Paul Sabatier, 118 route
de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse C!edex, France zCenter for Nonlinear Phenomena and Complex Systems,
Universit!e Libre de Bruxelles, C.P. 231, Campus Plaine, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium and yLS Biologie I,
Universit.at Regensburg, Universit.atsstrasse 31, D-93040 Regensburg, Germany
(Received on 11 July 2001, Accepted in revised form on 27 November 2001)
A threshold reinforcement model in insect societies is explored over a range of colony sizes
and levels of task demand to examine their effects upon worker polyethism. We find that
increasing colony size while keeping the demand proportional to the colony size causes an
increase in the differentiation among individuals in their activity levels, thus explaining the
occurrence of elitism (individuals that do a disproportionately large proportion of work) in
insect societies. Similar results were obtained when the overall work demand is increased
while keeping the colony size constant. Our model can reproduce a whole suite of
distributions of the activity levels among colony members that have been found in empirical
studies. When there are two tasks, we demonstrate that increasing demand and colony size


Source: Anderson, Carl - Synthetic Intelligence, Qbit, LLC, Bethesda, MD
Theraulaz, Guy - Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale, Université Paul Sabatier


Collections: Biology and Medicine; Engineering; Environmental Sciences and Ecology; Mathematics