Ants Can Form Bio-Bridge, say Researchers

Ants Can Form Bio-Bridge, say Researchers

A team of researchers in Australia recently filmed ants while the tiny creatures were busy constructing bridge to fill gaps and create shortcuts in the floor of the tropical forest of Central America.

The findings of the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), reveals the inborn algorithm that governs the ants bridge building decision.

The study researchers said that ants are able to calculate the costs and benefits of a bridge’s position in real time. They do this by manipulating the bridge's route across gaps and other dangerous objects till the time a right balance is obtained.

The cost here is the manpower, if the bridge is longer and more widespread, there will be fewer ants to go get and carry back the food or materials.

Christopher Reid, a postdoctoral researcher at Sydney's Insect Behaviour and Ecology Lab, said, “Indeed, after starting at intersections between twigs or lianas travelled by the ants, the bridges slowly move away from their starting point, creating shortcuts and progressively lengthening by addition of new workers, before stopping, suspended in mid-air”.

Reid said that in several cases ants could have created far better shortcuts, but they end up ceasing to move their bridges before achieving the shortest route possible.

Researchers said these bridges helps to maximize a colony’s route to natural resources like food, and building supplies.

Reid and his colleagues believe that the intelligence that governs the ants’ bridge building abilities could also be used in robotics programming.

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