Pub. Date:
Princeton University Press
Ant Encounters: Interaction Networks and Colony Behavior

Ant Encounters: Interaction Networks and Colony Behavior

by Deborah M. Gordon


View All Available Formats & Editions
Current price is , Original price is $29.95. You
Select a Purchase Option
  • purchase options
  • purchase options

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691138794
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 04/11/2010
Series: Primers in Complex Systems , #1
Pages: 152
Sales rank: 702,473
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Deborah M. Gordon is professor of biology at Stanford University. She is the author of Ants at Work (Norton).

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Preface xi

1 The Ant Colony as a Complex System 1

2 Colony Organization 14

The Diversity of Ant Behavior 14

From Individual to Collective Behavior 19

Division of Labor 25

Ants Switch Tasks 30

Age Polyethism 33

What Ants Respond To 37

Task Allocation 41

3 Interaction Networks 45

What Happens at Network Nodes 47

The Pattern of Interaction Is the Message 49

Rate and Memory 57

Individual Variation 63

Species Differences 67

4 Colony Size 75

Colony Growth 75

Task Allocation and Colony Size 83

Ecology, Behavior, and Mature Colony Size 90

5 Relations with Neighbors 96

Relations with Neighbors of the Same Species 97

Interactions between Species 107

Invasive Species 112

From Ecology to Behavior 117

6 Ant Evolution 121

Coevolution of Ants and Plants 121

Evolution of Colony Organization 125

Natural Selection in Action 131

7 Modeling Ant Behavior 141

Notes 147

Index 165

What People are Saying About This

Mark Elgar

Gordon convincingly argues that the behavior of ants within and outside a colony depends largely upon the simple metric of interactions with others. Provocative and stimulating, this book challenges prevailing paradigms and dogmas about social insect behavior. It will engage biologists interested in social insects and nonbiologists interested in complex systems.
Mark Elgar, University of Melbourne


Deborah Gordon has produced a delightful and scholarly introduction to ant colony organization that teaches as it entertains. Building on decades of observation, experimentation, and simulation, she convincingly demonstrates that ants form self-organized communities, in which individual tasks change dynamically as conditions and interaction networks shift. Placing her work in a historical framework that reaches from Darwin to political theory, Gordon conclusively makes the case that ant societies are model systems for the study of collective behavior.
Simon A. Levin, Princeton University

Peter Nonacs

Ant societies are like—and not like—human societies. Deborah Gordon's new book takes on these fascinating contradictions and achieves the rare balance of serving as an introduction for those wishing to learn about the wonders of the ant society, as well as a guide to the latest developments in group functioning and development.
Peter Nonacs, University of California, Los Angeles


Deborah Gordon's amazingly detailed book on the complex web of interactions in ant colonies makes fascinating reading for anyone who is curious about the world around us. And—even more interestingly from my point of view—this book provides rich fodder for understanding other kinds of collective intelligence, from neurons in the brain to human societies linked by the Internet.
Thomas W. Malone, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews