New study: With ant colonies, larger is better

New research finds that larger ant colonies have an edge over smaller ones.

Missouri University of Science and Technology assistant professor Chen Hou is one of the authors of a study published in the Dec. 23 issue of the journal Biology Letters.

It describes a new mathematical model that can predict the survival, growth and life span of ant colonies. Hou developed the mathematical models used to predict colony growth and survival.

The research found that smaller colonies and the ants in them tend to live faster, die younger and burn up more energy than their larger counterparts.

The research views the colonies as so-called "superorganisms" in which social insects function much like the cells of a body.