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ASU professors weigh in on new ant behavior breakthrough

By

Jason Krell

Professors Bert Hölldobler and Stephen Pratt with Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences were recently featured in an article published in Quanta Magazine about a new breakthrough in ant behavior.

New research combining observation and computational modeling has started uncovering the logic behind why ants build their massive networks of tunnels in particular ways. Scientists have even been able to identify a few rules that ants seem to follow and that help explain their behavior. There’s also the potential that ant behavior can shed light on how the human brain itself functions.

Pratt and Hölldobler are longtime researchers who study the social organization of insects, and share their expertise in the article. While both expressed excitement about the breakthroughs, Hölldobler also stressed caution about overreacting. A model seemingly mimicking real ant behavior doesn’t actually reflect or explain the real behaviors, despite how encouraging it seems.