Vol 8, Issue 2, May 2021

Updating a Textbook Model of Collective Behavior: Nest Wall Building in Temnothorax albipennis


Invernizzi, E., & Ruxton, G.D. (2021). Updating a textbook model of collective behavior: Nest wall building in Temnothorax albipennis. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 8(2), 231-239.  https://doi.org/10.26451/abc.


We reproduce the agent-based model of Temnothorax albipennis (formerly Leptothorax tuberointerruptus) nest building behavior described in Camazine et al. (2001) and based on the laboratory data and models found in Franks et al. (1992) and Franks and Deneubourg (1997). The model describes a set of behavioral rules that, when used by each worker independently, lead to behavioral coordination and the emergence of a coherent structure (the nest wall) without the need for advanced cognition: no direct communication between workers or explicit assessment of structural properties such as nest size is required. Some modelling details and data on the repeatability of results were missing from the original work. Here, we successfully replicate the findings and find the structure created by the model to be a good approximation of the one built under laboratory conditions. We additionally find that limited building material availability compromises the quality of the final structure under this behavioral model and that nest size might adjust to colony size over time. This latter finding appears, on the surface, to conflict with the predictions of the analytical model (Franks & Deneubourg, 1997).


Animal architecture, Self-organization, Ants, Collective behavior, Ant colony