Deborah M. Gordon
Past events can alter the behavior of both individual ants and ant colonies.
A red wood ant colony remembers its trail system leading to the same trees, year after year, although no single ant does.
The older ant dies and the younger ant adopts that trail as its own, thus leadingthe colony to remember, or reproduce, the previous year’s trails.
Foraging in a harvester ant colony requires some individual ant memory.
How do ant colonies get anything done, when no one is in charge? An antcolony operates without a central control or hierarchy, and no ant directsanother.
Ant Encounters provides a revealing and accessible look into ant behavior fromthis complex systems perspective.
Perhaps colonies remember a past disturbance because it shifted the location ofants, leading to new patterns of interaction, which might even reinforce the newbehavior overnight while the colony is inactive, just as our own memories areconsolidated during sleep.