Bipartite network analysis of ant-task associations reveals task groups and absence of colonial daily activity

Haruna Fujioka, Yasukazu Okada, Masato S. Abe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social insects are one of the best examples of complex self-organized systems exhibiting task allocation. How task allocation is achieved is the most fascinating question in behavioural ecology and complex systems science. However, it is difficult to comprehensively characterize task allocation patterns due to behavioural complexity, such as the individual variation, context dependency and chronological variation. Thus, it is imperative to quantify individual behaviours and integrate them into colony levels. Here, we applied bipartite network analyses to characterize individual-behaviour relationships. We recorded the behaviours of all individuals with verified age in ant colonies and analysed the individual-behaviour relationship at the individual, module and network levels. Bipartite network analysis successfully detected the module structures, illustrating that certain individuals performed a subset of behaviours (i.e. task groups). We confirmed age polyethism by comparing age between modules. Additionally, to test the daily rhythm of the executed tasks, the data were partitioned between daytime and nighttime, and a bipartite network was re-constructed. This analysis supported that there was no daily rhythm in the tasks performed. These findings suggested that bipartite network analyses could untangle complex task allocation patterns and provide insights into understanding the division of labour.

Original languageEnglish
Article number201637
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • age polyethism
  • community detection
  • division of labour
  • monomorphic ant
  • network analysis
  • social insect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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