TinBergen's Four Questions about Animal Behavior

Ants have evolved to live in colonies of up to millions of occupants, with several castes of sterile workers. Depending on the species, these include: soldiers, foragers, and those that rear the young. In addition to these wingless sterile workers, there is one or more, large, usually winged, fertile queen and several fertile male drones. The complex social structures in which ants live lead to the development of communication, conflict, division of labor, caste systems, and the abilitiy to solve complex problems using mutual cooperation among individuals.

-Colonies synchronize their behavior within the hive based on chemical cues or pheromones that are excreted from the other ants, especially the queen. This website focuses on the different areas that influence this behavior using ethologist Nikolaas Tinbergen's four areas of Animal Behavior Study: phylogeny, ontogeny, mechanism and,adaptive value.

-phylogeny will exame when and under what circumstances hierarchical structures began arrising in populations of the species that act as precursors to modern species.

-Ontogeny will help us explore during which periods of ant development the mechanisms controlling hierarchical behavior occur.

-Mechanism is the biological structure and process that carry out these behaviors

-Adaptive Value is the value of the behavior in terms of how well it promotes the propagation of an individuals genes.

ant fountain