Guest talk – Istvan Karsai

Guest talk – Istvan Karsai

In the framework of the “Fruits of Ethology” guest talk series we will have the pleasure to welcome our next speaker, Istvan Karsai (East Tennessee State University, Department of Biological Sciences, USA).
Date: 28th November, Thursday, 16.30

Location: ELTE, Pázmány Péter sétány 1/c, South Building, 7.110

Title: Organization of work in insect societies

Insect societies can be conceived as superorganisms in which inter-individual conflict for reproductive privilege is largely reduced and the worker caste is selected to maximize colony efficiency. Division of non-reproductive tasks among workers is a key adaptation promoting the ecological and evolutionary success of insect societies. Studies on division of labor are often concerned with the integration of individual worker behavior into colony level task organization and with the question of how regulation of division of labor may contribute to colony efficiency.
Integral feedback has been found to be important for homeostatic control on both the cellular and molecular levels of biological organization and in engineered systems. Analyzing the task allocation mechanisms of three insect societies, we identified a model of integral control residing at colony level. We characterized a general functional core mechanism, called the “common stomach,” where a crucial shared substance for colony function self-regulates its own quantity via reallocating the colony’s workforce, which collects and uses this substance. The core regulation system is highly scalable, and due to its buffer function, it can filter noise and find a new equilibrium quickly after perturbations. The common stomach regulation system is an example of convergent evolution among the three different societies, and we predict that similar integral control regulation mechanisms have evolved frequently within natural complex systems.

All welcome!
Márta Gácsi & Ádám Miklósi