Self-organization in social insects

Trends Ecol Evol. 1997 May;12(5):188-93. doi: 10.1016/s0169-5347(97)01048-3.


Self-organization was introduced originally in the context of physics and chemistry to describe how microscopic processes give rise to macroscopic stuctures in out-of-equilibrium systems, Recent research that extends this concept to ethology suggests that it provides a concise description of a wide range of collective phenomena in animals, especially in social insects. This description does not rely on individual complexity to account for complex spatiotemporal features that emerge at the colony level, but rather assumes that intractions among simple individuals can produce highly structured collective behaviours.