Team approach appears to work best for insect colonies

Mar 27, 2009

The study's findings appear to echo the insect worlds portrayed in the animated films Antz and Bee Movie, in which the characters live in rigidly conformist societies.

Scientists from the Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford reached their conclusion by creating a to study the manner in which cooperative groups of animals, known as superorganisms, evolve.

The study identifies that there are two scenarios in which a group can act as a unit. The first is when all the members are very closely related, and carry the same genes, so ensuring their genes are passed on to the next generation. The second is when the group's behaviour is controlled by a form of policing -in hives, for example, any egg not laid by the queen is destroyed by worker bees, to ensure only the queen's offspring survive. Both methods ensure that all the individuals involved are united in a common purpose.

Dr Andy Gardner, from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, said: "We often see animals appearing to move in unison, such as bison or fish. However, what looks like a team effort is in fact each animal jostling to get to the middle of the group to evade predators.

"By contrast, an ant nest or a beehive can behave as a united organism in its own right. In a beehive, the workers are happy to help the community, even to die, because the queen carries and passes on their genes.

"However, superorganisms are quite rare, and only exist when the internal conflict within a is suppressed - so we cannot use this term, for example, to describe human societies."

More information: The findings, funded by the Royal Society, are published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology.
www3.interscience.wiley.com/jo… l/121670992/abstract

Source: Wiley (news : web)

Explore further: The influence of the Isthmus of Panama in the evolution of freshwater shrimps in America

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Why do some queen bees eat their worker bee's eggs?

Dec 04, 2006

Worker bees, wasps, and ants are often considered neuter. But in many species they are females with ovaries, who although unable to mate, can lay unfertilized eggs which turn into males if reared. For some ...

The genetics of Anarchy

Jun 20, 2008

A study of honeybee 'anarchy' has uncovered several regions of the genome that influence cheating behaviour.

Predator pressures maintain bees' social life

Dec 21, 2007

The complex organisation of some insect societies is thought to have developed to such a level that these animals can no longer survive on their own. Research published in the online open access journal BMC Ev ...

Sky's the limit for bee brain power

Mar 05, 2008

Families flocked to see the latest animated hit Bee Movie, but scientists from UQ's Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) have long embraced the bee for very different reasons.

Recommended for you

Dogs hear our words and how we say them

16 hours ago

When people hear another person talking to them, they respond not only to what is being said—those consonants and vowels strung together into words and sentences—but also to other features of that speech—the ...

Amazonian shrimps: An underwater world still unknown

18 hours ago

A study reveals how little we know about the Amazonian diversity. Aiming to resolve a scientific debate about the validity of two species of freshwater shrimp described in the first half of the last century, ...

Factors that drive sexual traits

19 hours ago

Many male animals have multiple displays and behaviours to attract females; and often the larger or greater the better.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.