SEOUL, Feb.17 (Korea Bizwire) – Research shows that ant colonies maintain a certain number of ‘non-working ants’ to preserve their group.
The colony can continue to exist as the ‘slacking off ants’ start working when all the other workers are too tired to continue their jobs. If all of a colony’s ants worked hard, the community would fall apart when the workers were all worn out.
According to Japanese media such as Yomiuri Shimbun and Mainichi Shimbun, the results of a study into ant behavior conducted by professor Eisuke Hasegawa at Hokkaido University were published in a recent issue of the British science journal ‘Scientific Reports’.
Previous research suggested that 20 to 30 percent of the ants in a colony did not work. Even if a community was created only with working ants, a certain percentage always remained resting. On the other hand, if a community was established with only the non-working ants, they all started to work except for 20 to 30 percent of the population. Although these facts were already known, the reason for this behavior was not clear.
In nature, if worker ants cannot work, they fail to take care of their eggs, leading to the collapse of their colony.
The research team bred Siwakusi ants, which live all over Japan, colored them so they could be distinguished separately, and observed 1,200 ants in eight different groups. As ants that were working rested, ants that seemed to be slacking off started to work.
The research team also compared cases in which 75 ants in a group all got tired at the same time, and a case in which the ants had different levels of fatigue due to their ‘shifts’. The colony with all the ants working collapsed faster as they got tired and couldn’t move.
However, the groups with a certain amount of non-working ants prospered for longer periods of time, because the non-working ants started working when the working ants fell tired.
Professor Hasegawa commented that the system of having non-working ants is crucial to the existence of a group. “In human society, there are cases when things turn out bad if short term efficiency and results are demanded. The research is meaningful in showing the importance of running an organization with a long-term perspective. It is a very important fact that everyone needs to take a break.”
By Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)