Collective strategy for obstacle navigation during cooperative transport by ants

The Journal of Experimental Biology
Helen F McCreeryRadhika Nagpal


Group cohesion and consensus have primarily been studied in the context of discrete decisions, but some group tasks require making serial decisions that build on one another. We examine such collective problem solving by studying obstacle navigation during cooperative transport in ants. In cooperative transport, ants work together to move a large object back to their nest. We blocked cooperative transport groups of Paratrechina longicornis with obstacles of varying complexity, analyzing groups' trajectories to infer what kind of strategy the ants employed. Simple strategies require little information, but more challenging, robust strategies succeed with a wider range of obstacles. We found that transport groups use a stochastic strategy that leads to efficient navigation around simple obstacles, and still succeeds at difficult obstacles. While groups navigating obstacles preferentially move directly toward the nest, they change their behavior over time; the longer the ants are obstructed, the more likely they are to move away from the nest. This increases the chance of finding a path around the obstacle. Groups rapidly changed directions and rarely stalled during navigation, indicating that these ants maintain consensus even wh...Continue Reading

Associated Datasets


Mar 29, 2000·Scientific American·E Bonabeau, G Théraulaz
Oct 12, 2000·Nature·T NakagakiA Tóth
Jul 25, 2003·Journal of Comparative Physiology. A, Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology·Rüdiger Wehner
Apr 14, 2004·The European Journal of Neuroscience·Antonius B MulderSidney I Wiener
Feb 4, 2005·Nature·Iain D CouzinSimon A Levin
May 17, 2006·Trends in Ecology & Evolution·Larissa Conradt, Timothy J Roper
Dec 17, 2008·Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences·David J T Sumpter, Stephen C Pratt
Dec 6, 2011·Current Opinion in Neurobiology·Kathrin Steck
Oct 10, 2012·Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America·Chris R ReidMadeleine Beekman
Jan 12, 2013·The Journal of Experimental Biology·Chris R Reid, Madeleine Beekman
Oct 17, 2013·Behavioural Processes·Ken ChengRüdiger Wehner
Jul 29, 2015·Nature Communications·Aviram GelblumOfer Feinerman


Feb 9, 2017·PloS One·Yevgeniy VorobeychikSixie Yu
Mar 1, 2018·The Journal of Experimental Biology·Ravindra Palavalli-Nettimi, Ajay Narendra
May 11, 2018·PLoS Computational Biology·Jonathan E RonNir S Gov

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