Ants do change their jobs with age: A probable lesson of biomimetics for Business

Ants with tags (Credit: ALESSANDRO CRESPI)

Main Points:

With the help of largest-ever data from ant interactions done on the ant Camponotus fellah, researchers have reported that the ants are placed into three social groups that do different roles. These groups move in different parts of the residing area and the ants are graduated from one group to another as they age i.e. they change jobs.



Study Further:

Scientists in this study tagged the ants with paper containing a unique barcode-like symbol and tracked their paths and works by the camera placed overhead. Computer was assigned to record the position of the ants twice per second automatically. This is the largest data ever developed on ant colonies. Over the study of 41 days, the researchers gathered more than 2.4 billion readings and documented 9.4 million interactions between the workers.

They found three distinct groups of ants;

  1. One groups’ duty is to nurse the queen and young. Workers of this group constitute about 40% of the colony.
  2. One group cleans the colony
  3. One group forages the food. Workers of this group constitute about 30% of the colony and they are found near the entrance of the nest.

Researchers reported that nurses are younger than cleaners and cleaners are younger than foragers. (Age of ants: Nurses < Cleaners < Foragers)

Previously, researchers found that Honey bees pass through the same graduation and age. However, this career-change is not clear. “You can find very old nurses and very young foragers,” Danielle Mersch, one of the authors of the study, said in a statement.

“The paper is a game-changer, in the size and detail of the data set that was collected,” Anna Dornhaus, an entomologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said in a statement. “Different methods of automatically tracking animal behaviour have recently been developed, and this is one of the first empirical studies that have come out as a result.”

I think this job hierarchy could help in business establishments that would be some form of biomimetics in business.

You can see the computer tracking of the ants below.


Nature News

Further Reading:

Mersch, D., Crespi, A., & Keller, L. (2013). Tracking Individuals Shows Spatial Fidelity Is a Key Regulator of Ant Social Organization Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1234316

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is a sort of entrepreneur. He is the author of "Color Atlas of Statistics", and the owner of an Android game "Faily Rocket."