Benjamin Taylor

James L. Carmon Scholarship Honorable Mention

Benjamin Taylor, an M.S. candidate in the Odum School of Ecology, investigates how ants acquire, retain and retrieve information as a group. Because animal groups often face the same tasks repeatedly, their decisions in foraging and other behaviors could benefit collective learning based on experience. His research explores whether members of a colony of the ant Temnothorax rugatulus can pass information among individuals and progressively improve group performance in foraging over time. Taylor attaches miniature tags to multiple individuals and films them using high-resolution cameras, then deploys the high-resolution video data and advances in computer vision and other technologies to fine-scale track animal movements. He plans to use new analytical approaches to quantify and discriminate between various movement tracks of individual members and groups of ants under different experimental manipulations. The results of his research could advance understanding of collective problem-solving in animal and human societies, potentially with AI applications.