The fast and the fractalous: speed and tortuosity trade off in running ants

Angilletta Jr, M.J., Roth II, T.C., Wilson, R. S., Niehaus, A. and Ribeiro, P.L. (2008) The fast and the fractalous: speed and tortuosity trade off in running ants. Functional Ecology, 22 1: 78-83. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2435.2007.01348.x

Author Angilletta Jr, M.J.
Roth II, T.C.
Wilson, R. S.
Niehaus, A.
Ribeiro, P.L.
Title The fast and the fractalous: speed and tortuosity trade off in running ants
Journal name Functional Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0269-8463
Publication date 2008-02-01
Year available 2008
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2435.2007.01348.x
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 22
Issue 1
Start page 78
End page 83
Total pages 6
Place of publication United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Language eng
Subject C1
970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
060604 Comparative Physiology
Abstract The thermal sensitivity of locomotor performance has often been described in terms of speed, but the trajectory of locomotion may play an equally important role in capturing prey or escaping predators. Hypotheses based on physical constraints or behavioural plasticity predict relationships between the speed and the tortuosity of running, which should affect the thermal sensitivity of locomotion. We measured the speed and tortuosity of running by leaf-cutter ants over a range of temperatures from 10 °C to 40 °C. Tortuosity was estimated by the fractal dimension of each path. As we expected, ants ran faster at higher temperatures, but they also followed straighter (less tortuous) paths. A negative relationship between speed and tortuosity was observed both within and among thermal environments. Both biomechanical and behavioural mechanisms might have caused the observed relationship. Turning at high speeds should be more difficult because of the force needed to overcome inertia, and turning at low speeds could help ants evade a predator. Staged encounters with predators should help to define the ecological significance of the trade-off between speed and tortuosity.
Keyword fractal dimension
locomotor performance
protean movement
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2009 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 21 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 20 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Wed, 11 Feb 2009, 00:07:19 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences