Why do ants work together in colonies?

November 10, 2020 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Online (Zoom)
Cath Bauman

A talk by Guy Palmer, our tutor on evolution and genetics.

Most animals are selfish most of the time. Even when it looks like they are working together, this is often just a byproduct of their selfishness. For example, when zebra or fish are attacked and group together in tight packs, this is actually simply because each animal is trying to get into the middle of the pack, where they will be safe.

But ants (and bees) are different. They live in colonies and individual ants act to benefit the colony rather than themselves. Here is one example: the vast majority of ants in a colony are fertile but they choose not to have children, instead spending their time and resources looking after the children of the queen ant.

In this talk, Guy will discuss why ants act to benefit their colony rather than themselves. Here are a few clues. 1) When animals do cooperate, it is usually because they are related to each other. 2) Most ants are female. 3) The genetics of ants are different than the genetics of most animals.

Guy will also discuss the consequent achievements of ant colonies, including as childminders, builders, farmers and fighters.

Register your interest by email to the Office (office@nillumbiku3a.org.au). You will then be sent the relevant Zoom link to your email address (the one registered with U3A) 24-36 hours before the event.