Evolutionary Game Theory, Organisational Behaviour and Meat Ants

 

“Ants are good citizens, they place group interests first”

– Clarence Shepard Day, American Author.

Meat ants are found in Australia. They have wonderful organizational structure. At the top is queen and below are thousands of ants. Ants play different roles according to age and needs of organization. All are aggressive, focused, team player and hardworking (have you ever seen an ant loafing?).

Meat Ant

Now for some more interesting facts- all are females and also sisters (i.e. they have same mother, while fathers may be different), males have no role to play as they are considered to be useless.

 

How did they achieve such a wonderful organizational structure? Explanation lies in evolutionary game theory.

 

If ants were to breed on their own, they will be able to pass only 50% of genes, to next generation, the percentage will go down even further in later generations. Now to preserve their genes they did something different-to keep correlation of relatedness high they outsourced breeding to the queen, who is diploid, after she mates male drone that is haploid, she is able to maintain correlation of relatedness at around .75 i.e. the next generation will preserve 75% of genes. Since same queen lays eggs (male drone may change) the correlation of relatedness is around .75. Generations of ants are sisters since mother is same.

haplodiploid-chart

Optimization model can explain why ants are so focused. In dynamic programming there is interesting problem of how many things can be kept in a knapsack, whose value is high but weight is low (  using online solver for below example answer is all items except green box)

486px-Knapsack

Ants use same logic, if they are given option of small amount of honey with high sugar content and large amount of solution containing lower sugar content, they will always opt for honey i.e. more sugar (quality) but less weight (quantity).

291px-Knapsack_ants

 

 

 

 

 

 

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