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J Theor Biol. 2003 Mar 7;221(1):1-14.

Self-organized criticality in ant brood tending.

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School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.


A new stochastic lattice gas model of ant brood tending is formulated to examine the role played by repulsive ant-ant interactions in the even distribution of care among brood members. The deterministic limit of the model is known to be self-organized critical. Numerical simulations of the model show that the ant-ant repulsion facilitates an even distribution of brood care in the middle of the brood. This provides a possible explanation for the fact that ants sort their brood so that the youngest brood (which are most in need of care) are placed in the middle. Simulations show that the uniformity of brood care distribution is optimal when ants operate in a regime intermediate between completely random and completely deterministic. A certain degree of randomness helps ants to avoid becoming trapped in suboptimal configurations but does not destroy the long-range correlations that are inherent to self-organized critical systems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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