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I'm working on developing a model of ant foraging. To do this, I have simulated food morsels distributed randomly within an area, with the minimum distance between morsels being variable. I'm trying to get a good idea of the scale at which I should define the distances. This has to depend on ant walking speed and their usual foraging distance.

I'm not very species-specific in my approach. One study (1) shows a survey of foraging distance for different species. They found that most of the species had a maximal foraging distance of less than 1m. Some species did go upwards of 10m. I presume this distance would increase with the presence of trails, but to only focus on finding food by exploring, I can keep the distance between food morsels to be 2m-3m.

Now, I also want to figure out the time that it would take an ant to start from the nest and reach the food given its distance. This is where I'm stuck. I wasn't able to find any survey or study on walking speeds of different ant species. I need an approximate 'exploring speed' of ants, which is just time taken to reach a morsel after leaving the nest. Are there any references I could use to estimate this value for my model?

References:

  1. Eguchi, K., Bui, T. V., & Yamane, S. (2004). A preliminary study on foraging distance and nesting sites of ants in Indo-Chinese lowland vegetation. Sociobiology, 43(3), 445-457.
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I don't think it's reasonable to try to do this in a species-independent manner, since there is so much difference between ant species. Leaf-cutter ants, for example, will build trails to forage 200 meters away from their nests. Likewise, ants vary by two orders of magnitude in size and the walking speed of an ant will vary accordingly as well. Finally, I don't think that you can reasonably exclude trail-building from your simulation, since that's a key ingredient of foraging.

Bottom line: pick a species to model and look for information on its specific mobility.

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