Self-Regulation of Harvester Ant Foraging

Harvester ants. Photo by Katie Dektar.

In harvester ant colonies the return of successful foragers stimulates others to leave the nest to look for food; if the rate of incoming successful foragers decreases, a very rapid decrease is also seen in the rate of outgoing foragers.  Katie Dektar was interested in algorithms describing how the ants waiting inside the nest leave and forage based on when others return with food.  Algorithms describing the way the internet works, especially window-based flow control algorithms like Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), served as an intriguing model.  The notion that networking algorithms and biological behaviors work in similar ways iss exciting for computer scientists and biologists alike. 

Dektar used a UAR Major Grant to collect data at an Arizona field site in the summer before her senior year.

 

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Katherine Dektar, '11.
Katherine Dektar, '11

Katie Dektar graduated with honors in Biomedical Computation in 2011. Her interests at Stanford spanned a number of fields, and she’s always been interested in ideas that cross disciplines.