Session H40: Biological Physics I

8:00 AM–11:00 AM, Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Room: 412

Sponsoring Unit: DBP
Chair: David Weitz, Harvard University

Abstract ID: BAPS.2009.MAR.H40.11

Abstract: H40.00011 : The Dynamics of Foraging Ants

10:00 AM–10:12 AM

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  G. William Baxter
    (Penn State Erie, The Behrend College)

We experimentally study the foraging of small black ants, Formicinae lasius flavus, in order to describe their foraging behavior mathematically. Individual ants are allowed to forage on a two-dimensional surface in the {\it absence} of any food sources. The position of the ant as a function of time is determined using a high-resolution digital camera. Analysis of the average square displacements of many ants suggests that the foraging strategy is a non-reversing random walk. Moreover, the ants do not retrace their steps to return home but instead continue the random walk until it brings them back near their starting point.

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