Collective behavior in house-hunting ants and homing pigeons

Social Insect Research Group seminar series
Takao Sasaki,
 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Department of Zoology (OxNav Group), University of Oxford

Takao Sasaki will talk about two studies investigating collective behavior in house-hunting ants and homing pigeons. The first study explores recruitment behavior in Temnothorax ants during emigrations. These ants use tandem running to recruit nestmates from their home site to a new one. Past research has suggested that followers learn routes from leaders during tandem running. It is less frequent but these ants also recruit in the opposite direction (i.e. from a new site to their home site) using tandem runs—known as reverse tandem running. This study explored whether or not the followers also learn routes during reverse tandem runs.

The second study explores collective learning in homing pigeons, Columba livia. Studies of collective intelligence in animal groups typically focus on one-off performance, overlooking potential improvement through learning which can feed back into subsequent decisions. Although such accumulation of knowledge has been recognized as a major advantage of group living within the framework of Cumulative Cultural Evolution (CCE), the interplay between CCE and collective intelligence has remained unexplored. In this study, he uses pigeons to investigate cumulative aspects of collective intelligence while solving a spatial task (homing) by adapting methods developed for testing CCE in human subjects.

Dr. Sasaki Received his PhD in Biology here at ASU in 2013. Now he is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford.


Friday, Dec. 9 | 2 - 3 p.m.
ISTB1 401