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Task partitioning in insect societies. II. Use of queueing delay information in recruitment

Ratnieks, F.L.W. and Anderson, C. (1999) Task partitioning in insect societies. II. Use of queueing delay information in recruitment. American Naturalist, 154 (5). pp. 536-548. ISSN 0003-0147


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The collection and handling of colony resources such as food, water, and nest-construction material is often divided into subtasks in which the material is passed from one worker to another. This is known as task partitioning. If task; are partitioned with direct transfer of material between foragers and receivers, queueing delays can occur as individuals search or wait for a transfer partner. Changes in environmental conditions and relative number of foragers and receivers affect these delays as well as colony ergonomic efficiency. These delays are used in recruitment in both honeybees and Polybia wasps. This study investigates the distribution of queueing delays and the information content and quality of those delays using a stochastic-simulation model. Information quality increases with colony size. When the relative proportions of foragers and receivers are suboptimal, the group in excess has better information. Individuals can increase information quality of delays by two mechanisms: averaging over consecutive trips and averaging over multiple transfers within a trip where direct transfer occurs. We suggest that multiple transfer occurs in the honeybee in order to improve information quality.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 1999 The University of Chicago. Reproduced in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
Keywords: social insects, task partitioning, ergonomics, information, queueing delays, honeybee
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > School of Mathematics and Statistics (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > School of Biological Sciences (Sheffield) > Department of Animal and Plant Sciences (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2006
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2015 00:57
Published Version: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/AN/journal/issues...
Status: Published
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Refereed: Yes
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/1305

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