Insights from insects about adaptive social information use

Trends Ecol Evol. 2014 Mar;29(3):177-84. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2014.01.004. Epub 2014 Feb 19.


Copying others can greatly improve individual fitness and is fundamental for the organisation of societies. Yet in some situations it is better to ignore social information and either explore the world individually or use personal information obtained through prior experience. Insects provide excellent models to study the strategic use of social information, but insights from recent research have rarely been viewed in the light of social learning strategies. Here we discuss how insects tailor their reliance on social information to those circumstances for which it is most beneficial, and suggest that insects and vertebrates use similar information-use strategies. We highlight future research avenues, including the use of molecular tools to study the genetic and genomic basis of social information use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Animal Communication*
  • Animals
  • Insecta / physiology*
  • Social Behavior*