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Agent based modeling of Eciton burchelli swarm patterns

Eciton burchelli is a unique species of army ants that demonstrate non-traditional swarm behavior. These ants have extremely poor eyesight and as a result, they rely heavily on the distribution and tracking of pheromone. In order to identify mechanisms that generate a scaled down nest and food conditions of E.burchelli, we create a simulated ant world using agent based modeling. The hope is that simple rules will generate the desired emergent behavior. We propose various ant behavioral rules and observe the generated (emerging) swarm patterns. The focus of this study is on the exploration of the role of pheromone directional intensity on swarming dynamics. We test various factors on the agents and their impact on pheromone trails; key elements in the survival of the E.burchelli colony. In addition to the simulations, existing models of swarm behavior (reaction-diffusion-advection PDE's) are analyzed and their dynamics are compared with the results from the simulations.

  • Poster session award recipient at the 2005 AMS/MAA Joint Mathematics Meeting in Atlanta, GA

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Jose Almora, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Albert Izarraraz, University of California, Irvine
Qiao Liang, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
Crystal Nesmith, St. Mary's College of Maryland