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Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2003 Jun 15;361(1807):1263-82.

The formation of spatial patterns in social insects: from simple behaviours to complex structures.

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  • 1CNR-FRE 2382, Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale, Universit√© Paul Sabatier, 118 route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse Cedex 4, France.


Many of the collective activities performed by social insects result in the formation of complex spatio-temporal patterns. Without centralized control, workers are able to work together and collectively tackle tasks far beyond the abilities of any one individual. The resulting patterns produced by a colony are not explicitly coded at the individual level, but rather emerge from nonlinear interactions between individuals or between individuals and their environment. We present a few selected examples to illustrate some of the basic mechanisms used by social insects, such as templates, stigmergy and self-organization. These mechanisms can be used in combination to organize pattern formation at the colony level.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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