Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

How ants use quorum sensing to estimate the average quality of a fluctuating resource

Franks, Nigel R.; Stuttard, Jonathan P.; Doran, Carolina; Esposito, Julian C.; Master, Maximillian C.; Sendova-Franks, Ana B.; Masuda, Naoki; Britton, Nicholas F.


Nigel R. Franks

Jonathan P. Stuttard

Carolina Doran

Julian C. Esposito

Maximillian C. Master

Ana B. Sendova-Franks

Naoki Masuda

Nicholas F. Britton


© 2015, Nature Publishing Group. All rights reserved. We show that one of the advantages of quorum-based decision-making is an ability to estimate the average value of a resource that fluctuates in quality. By using a quorum threshold, namely the number of ants within a new nest site, to determine their choice, the ants are in effect voting with their feet. Our results show that such quorum sensing is compatible with homogenization theory such that the average value of a new nest site is determined by ants accumulating within it when the nest site is of high quality and leaving when it is poor. Hence, the ants can estimate a surprisingly accurate running average quality of a complex resource through the use of extraordinarily simple procedures.


Franks, N. R., Stuttard, J. P., Doran, C., Esposito, J. C., Master, M. C., Sendova-Franks, A. B., …Britton, N. F. (2015). How ants use quorum sensing to estimate the average quality of a fluctuating resource. Scientific Reports, 5(11890),

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jul 8, 2015
Journal Scientific Reports
Electronic ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher Nature Research (part of Springer Nature)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 5
Issue 11890
Keywords decision-making, quorum sensing, estimating quality, fluctuating resource, complex collective systems, animal behaviour, collective behaviour, applied mathematics
Public URL
Publisher URL
Related Public URLs


You might also like

Downloadable Citations