Journal article:
Stability and Responsiveness in a Self-Organized Living Architecture

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March 28, 2013
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Garnier, Simon
Murphy, Tucker
Leblanc, Simon
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Abstract
Robustness and adaptability are central to the functioning of biological systems, from gene networks to animal societies. Yet the mechanisms by which living organisms achieve both stability to perturbations and sensitivity to input are poorly understood. Here, we present an integrated study of a living architecture in which army ants interconnect their bodies to span gaps. We demonstrate that these self-assembled bridges are a highly effective means of maintaining traffic flow over unpredictable terrain. The individual-level rules responsible depend only on locally-estimated traffic intensity and the number of neighbours to which ants are attached within the structure. We employ a parameterized computational model to reveal that bridges are tuned to be maximally stable in the face of regular, periodic fluctuations in traffic. However analysis of the model also suggests that interactions among ants give rise to feedback processes that result in bridges being highly responsive to sudden interruptions in traffic. Subsequent field experiments confirm this prediction and thus the dual nature of stability and flexibility in living bridges. Our study demonstrates the importance of robust and adaptive modular architecture to efficient traffic organisation and reveals general principles regarding the regulation of form in biological self-assemblies.
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570 Biosciences, Biology
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PLoS Computational Biology ; 9 (2013), 3. - e1002984. - ISSN 1553-734X. - eISSN 1553-7358
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Cite This
ISO 690GARNIER, Simon, Tucker MURPHY, Matthew J. LUTZ, Edward HURME, Simon LEBLANC, Iain D. COUZIN, 2013. Stability and Responsiveness in a Self-Organized Living Architecture. In: PLoS Computational Biology. 9(3), e1002984. ISSN 1553-734X. eISSN 1553-7358. Available under: doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002984
BibTex
@article{Garnier2013-03-28Stabi-36936,
  year={2013},
  doi={10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002984},
  title={Stability and Responsiveness in a Self-Organized Living Architecture},
  number={3},
  volume={9},
  issn={1553-734X},
  journal={PLoS Computational Biology},
  author={Garnier, Simon and Murphy, Tucker and Lutz, Matthew J. and Hurme, Edward and Leblanc, Simon and Couzin, Iain D.},
  note={Article Number: e1002984}
}
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