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Discovery

Superorganisms Are More Than the Sum of Their Parts

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Photo of three California seed-harvester ant queens along with brood and a young worker ant.

Arizona State University researchers James Waters and Tate Holbrook seek to discover how size affects the organization and physiology of superorganisms such as bacterial communities, insect colonies or human cities. Here, three queens along with brood and a young worker ant of the pleometrotic California seed-harvester ant, Pogonomyrmex californicus.

Credit: James S. Waters


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Photo of a respirometry chamber used to measure metabolic rates of whole ant colonies.

Metabolic rates of whole ant colonies were estimated by measuring oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production after placing artificial colony nests within a custom-designed respirometry chamber.

Credit: James S. Waters


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