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Fixed Response Thresholds and the Regulation of Division of Labor in Insect Societies


  • Eric Bonabeau
  • Guy Theraulaz
  • Jean-Louis Deneubourg


We introduce a simple mathematical model of regulation of division of labour in insect societies based on the notion of fixed response thresholds. Individuals with different thresholds respond differently to task-associated stimuli. Low-threshold individuals become involved at a lower level of stimulus than high-threshold individuals. We show that this simple model can account for experimental observations of Wilson (1984), extend the model to more complicated situations, explore its properties, and study under what conditions it can account for temporal polyethism.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric Bonabeau & Guy Theraulaz & Jean-Louis Deneubourg, 1998. "Fixed Response Thresholds and the Regulation of Division of Labor in Insect Societies," Working Papers 98-01-009, Santa Fe Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:safiwp:98-01-009

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    Cited by:

    1. Boysen, Nils & Scholl, Armin & Wopperer, Nico, 2012. "Resequencing of mixed-model assembly lines: Survey and research agenda," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 216(3), pages 594-604.
    2. Anna Dornhaus, 2011. "Finding optimal collective strategies using individual-based simulations: colony organization in social insects," Mathematical and Computer Modelling of Dynamical Systems, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(1), pages 25-37, May.
    3. Pierre-André Eyer & Julien Freyer & Serge Aron, 2013. "Genetic polyethism in the polyandrous desert ant Cataglyphis cursor," Behavioral Ecology, International Society for Behavioral Ecology, vol. 24(1), pages 144-151.


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