oa African Zoology - Quantifying tasks and roles in insect societies

Volume 26, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X



When setting out a framework for the exploration of a subject, it is necessary to define terms to represent specific concepts, and to refine them as knowledge of the subject grows. It is a great advantage if stipulative definitions are also operational definitions, since this makes methods of quantification obvious. The concepts of tasks and roles are central to studies of organization of labour in insect societies, but their application has sometimes been problematic. Here their definitions are reviewed, and appropriate methods of quantification and analysis are outlined. These involve correspondence analysis and Markov chain analysis of transition probability matrices to study the organization of behaviour into tasks, and correspondence analysis of ethograms made by scan sampling to investigate the roles filled by the workers.

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