Ant Encounters: Interaction Networks and Colony Behavior

Princeton University Press
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How do ant colonies get anything done, when no one is in charge? An ant colony operates without a central control or hierarchy, and no ant directs another. Instead, ants decide what to do based on the rate, rhythm, and pattern of individual encounters and interactions--resulting in a dynamic network that coordinates the functions of the colony. Ant Encounters provides a revealing and accessible look into ant behavior from this complex systems perspective.

Focusing on the moment-to-moment behavior of ant colonies, Deborah Gordon investigates the role of interaction networks in regulating colony behavior and relations among ant colonies. She shows how ant behavior within and between colonies arises from local interactions of individuals, and how interaction networks develop as a colony grows older and larger. The more rapidly ants react to their encounters, the more sensitively the entire colony responds to changing conditions. Gordon explores whether such reactive networks help a colony to survive and reproduce, how natural selection shapes colony networks, and how these structures compare to other analogous complex systems.



Ant Encounters sheds light on the organizational behavior, ecology, and evolution of these diverse and ubiquitous social insects.

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About the author

Deborah M. Gordon is professor of biology at Stanford University. She is the author of Ants at Work (Norton).
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Mar 22, 2010
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Pages
152
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ISBN
9781400835447
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Life Sciences / Zoology / Entomology
Science / Life Sciences / Zoology / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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This well-accepted book, now in its Third Edition, is an extension of the previous edition. The text has further enriched with more information to understand animal behaviour coherently and scientifically.

The book attempts to provide a reasonably suitable account of animal behaviour for undergraduate as well as postgraduate students. Although behaviour of animals has fascinated people for a long, behavioural biology has been incorporated in the syllabi very recently. The study of behaviour received its important boost from the work of Charles Darwin who used the term ‘instinct’, to refer to the natural behaviour of animals. In the 1930s, a comprehensive theory of animal behaviour emerged through the work of Konrad Lorenz and, later of Niko Tinbergen. Biological study of behaviour, in fact came of age as a science when Lorenz, Tinbergen and Karl von Frisch received the Nobel Prize for their contribution to science.

Observing and describing exactly what animals do is fascinating and scientific analysis of their behaviour is significant for several reasons. Each species tends to have an array of stereotyped behaviours, some of which are shared with related species, but others are unique. Ecology, natural selection, macroevolution, microevolution, and gene constitute the foundation of animal behaviour. Various animal groups exhibit diverse strategies for their survival and reproduction which are discussed in this book.

The book is primarily intended for the students of B.Sc./M.Sc. (Zoology/Life Science) for their courses. It would be useful for the researchers in the field of animal behaviour, and conservation biologists. It would also attract students who are pursuing courses in Sociology and Anthropology.

Key features

• Presents a well-balanced view of ethology.
• Discusses the current development in the field.
• Includes a glossary of important terms.
• Offers chapter-end questions to check the students’ understanding of the concept.
The Oldest Living Things in the World is an epic journey through time and space. Over the past decade, artist Rachel Sussman has researched, worked with biologists, and traveled the world to photograph continuously living organisms that are 2,000 years old and older. Spanning from Antarctica to Greenland, the Mojave Desert to the Australian Outback, the result is a stunning and unique visual collection of ancient organisms unlike anything that has been created in the arts or sciences before, insightfully and accessibly narrated by Sussman along the way.

Her work is both timeless and timely, and spans disciplines, continents, and millennia. It is underscored by an innate environmentalism and driven by Sussman’s relentless curiosity. She begins at “year zero,” and looks back from there, photographing the past in the present. These ancient individuals live on every continent and range from Greenlandic lichens that grow only one centimeter a century, to unique desert shrubs in Africa and South America, a predatory fungus in Oregon, Caribbean brain coral, to an 80,000-year-old colony of aspen in Utah. Sussman journeyed to Antarctica to photograph 5,500-year-old moss; Australia for stromatolites, primeval organisms tied to the oxygenation of the planet and the beginnings of life on Earth; and to Tasmania to capture a 43,600-year-old self-propagating shrub that’s the last individual of its kind. Her portraits reveal the living history of our planet—and what we stand to lose in the future. These ancient survivors have weathered millennia in some of the world’s most extreme environments, yet climate change and human encroachment have put many of them in danger. Two of her subjects have already met with untimely deaths by human hands.

Alongside the photographs, Sussman relays fascinating – and sometimes harrowing – tales of her global adventures tracking down her subjects and shares insights from the scientists who research them. The oldest living things in the world are a record and celebration of the past, a call to action in the present, and a barometer of our future.
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