Cérebros pequeninos das abelhas suplantam computadores na solução de problemas matemáticos complexos

segunda-feira, outubro 25, 2010

Bees' tiny brains beat computers, study finds

Bees can solve complex mathematical problems which keep computers busy for days, research has shown

Press association
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 24 October 2010 21.45 BST
Article history

Researchers found that bees could solve the 'travelling salesman's' shortest route problem, despite having a brain the size of a grass seed. Photograph: Rex Features

Bees can solve complex mathematical problems which keep computers busy for days, research has shown.

The insects learn to fly the shortest route between flowers discovered in random order, effectively solving the "travelling salesman problem" , said scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London.

The conundrum involves finding the shortest route that allows a travelling salesman to call at all the locations he has to visit. Computers solve the problem by comparing the length of all possible routes and choosing the one that is shortest.

Bees manage to reach the same solution using a brain the size of a grass seed.

Dr Nigel Raine, from Royal Holloway's school of biological sciences, said: "Foraging bees solve travelling salesman problems every day. They visit flowers at multiple locations and, because bees use lots of energy to fly, they find a route which keeps flying to a minimum."

Read more here/Leia mais aqui: The Guardian


Abstract e artigo gentilmente enviados pelo DR. NIGEL RAINE

Vol. 176, no. 6 The American Naturalist December 2010

Travel Optimization by Foraging Bumblebees through Readjustments of Traplines after Discovery of New Feeding Locations

Mathieu Lihoreau,1 Lars Chittka,1 and Nigel E. Raine1,2,*

1. Research Centre for Psychology, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS, United Kingdom; 2. School of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, Surrey TW20 OEX, United Kingdom

Submitted March 24, 2010; Accepted August 10, 2010; Electronically published October 25, 2010


Animals collecting resources that replenish over time often visit patches in predictable sequences called traplines. Despite the widespread nature of this strategy, we still know little about how spatial memory develops and guides individuals toward suitable routes. Here, we investigate whether flower visitation sequences by bumblebees Bombus terrestris simply reflect the order in which flowers were discovered or whether they result from more complex navigational strategies enabling bees to optimize their foraging routes. We analyzed bee flight movements in an array of four artificial flowers maximizing interfloral distances. Starting from a single patch, we sequentially added three new patches so that if bees visited them in the order in which they originally encountered flowers, they would follow a long (suboptimal) route. Bees’ tendency to visit patches in their discovery order decreased with experience. Instead, they optimized their flight distances by rearranging flower visitation sequences. This resulted in the development of a primary route (trapline) and two or three less frequently used secondary routes. Bees consistently used these routes after overnight breaks while occasionally exploring novel possibilities. We discuss how maintaining some level of route flexibility could allow traplining animals to cope with dynamic routing problems, analogous to the well-known traveling salesman problem.

Keywords: Bombus terrestris, pollination ecology, spatial cognition, trapline foraging, traveling salesman problem.