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Data from: The multi-dimensional nature of information drives prioritisation of private over social information in ants

Citation

Czaczkes, Tomer J.; Beckwith, John J.; Horsch, Anna-Lena; Hartig, Florian (2019), Data from: The multi-dimensional nature of information drives prioritisation of private over social information in ants, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.gb8h60p

Abstract

When personally gathered and socially acquired information conflict, animals often prioritise private information. We propose that this is because private information often contains details that social information lacks. We test this idea in an ant model. Ants using a food source learn its location and quality rapidly (private information), whereas pheromone trails (social information) provide good directional information, but lack reliable information about food quality. If this lack is indeed responsible for the choice of memory over pheromone trails, adding information that better food is available should cause foragers to switch their priority to social information. We show it does: while ants follow memory rather than pheromones when they conflict, adding unambiguous information about a better potential food source (a 2µl droplet of good food) reverses this pattern, from 60% of ants following their memory to 75% following the pheromone trail. Using fluorescence microscopy, we demonstrate that food (and thus information) flows from fed workers to outgoing foragers, explaining the frequent contacts of ants on trails. Ants trained to poor food that contact nestmates fed with good food are more likely to follow a trail than ants which received information about poor food. We conclude that social information may often be ignored because it lacks certain crucial dimensions, suggesting that information content is crucial for understanding how and when animals prioritise social and private information.

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