The Ants - Chapter 8 Caste and Division of Labor Summary & Analysis

Bert Hölldobler
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Chapter 8 Caste and Division of Labor Summary

Individuals within a colony belong to an identifiable functional group referred to as a caste. Castes allow a colony to function efficiently as a type of transactional system where individual costs are not considered; "[t]he more exact expression is ergonomics, to acknowledge that work and energy are the sole elements of calculation, and also that nothing resembling human transactions with credit and money is involved" (p. 298). Colony ergonomics are based around providing maximum work for minimum energy expenditure, and the loss of individual organisms within the colony is best understood in terms of energy expenditure by the colony. Several field studies of ergonomics are presented and summarized. Ant behavior is codified and presented in charts and graphs, which illustrate how ants belonging to the various castes spend their time and energy.

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