The costs and benefits of decentralization and centralization of ant colonies

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dc.contributor.author Burns, Dominic D.R.
dc.contributor.author Pitchford, Jon W.
dc.contributor.author Parr, Catherine Lucy
dc.contributor.author Franks, Daniel W.
dc.contributor.author Robinson, Elva J.H.
dc.date.accessioned 2020-05-07T14:19:45Z
dc.date.available 2020-05-07T14:19:45Z
dc.date.issued 2019-11
dc.description.abstract A challenge faced by individuals and groups of many species is determining how resources and activities should be spatially distributed: centralized or decentralized. This distribution problem is hard to understand due to the many costs and benefits of each strategy in different settings. Ant colonies are faced by this problem and demonstrate two solutions: 1) centralizing resources in a single nest (monodomy) and 2) decentralizing by spreading resources across many nests (polydomy). Despite the possibilities for using this system to study the centralization/decentralization problem, the trade-offs associated with using either polydomy or monodomy are poorly understood due to a lack of empirical data and cohesive theory. Here, we present a dynamic network model of a population of ant nests which is based on observations of a facultatively polydomous ant species (Formica lugubris). We use the model to test several key hypotheses for costs and benefits of polydomy and monodomy and show that decentralization is advantageous when resource acquisition costs are high, nest size is limited, resources are clustered, and there is a risk of nest destruction, but centralization prevails when resource availability fluctuates and nest size is limited. Our model explains the phylogenetic and ecological diversity of polydomous ants, demonstrates several trade-offs of decentralization and centralization, and provides testable predictions for empirical work on ants and in other systems. en_ZA
dc.description.department Zoology and Entomology en_ZA
dc.description.librarian am2020 en_ZA
dc.description.sponsorship NERC ACCE DTP en_ZA
dc.description.uri https://academic.oup.com/beheco en_ZA
dc.identifier.citation Burns, D.D.R., Pitchford, J.W., Parr, C.L. et al. 2019, 'The costs and benefits of decentralization and centralization of ant colonies', Behavioural Ecology, vol. 30, no. 6, pp. 1700-1706. en_ZA
dc.identifier.issn 1045-2249 (print)
dc.identifier.issn 1465-7279 (online)
dc.identifier.other 10.1093/beheco/arz138
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2263/74514
dc.language.iso en en_ZA
dc.publisher Oxford University Press en_ZA
dc.rights © The Author(s) 2019. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. en_ZA
dc.subject Collective decision-making en_ZA
dc.subject Decentralization en_ZA
dc.subject Dynamic networks en_ZA
dc.subject Polydomy en_ZA
dc.subject Social insects en_ZA
dc.subject Social networks en_ZA
dc.title The costs and benefits of decentralization and centralization of ant colonies en_ZA
dc.type Article en_ZA


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