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Digging the optimum pit: antlions, spirals and spontaneous stratification

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Title: Digging the optimum pit: antlions, spirals and spontaneous stratification
Authors: Franks, N
Worley, A
Falkenberg McGillivray, M
Sendova-Franks, A
Christensen, K
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Most animal traps are constructed from self-secreted silk, so antlions are rare among trap builders because they use only materials found in the environment. We show how antlions exploit the properties of the substrate to produce very effective structures in the minimum amount of time. Our modelling demonstrates how antlions (1) exploit self-stratification in granular media differentially to expose deleterious large grains at the bottom of the construction trench where they can be ejected preferentially and (2) minimize completion time by spiral rather than central digging. Both phenomena are confirmed by our experiments. Spiral digging saves time because it enables the antlion to eject material initially from the periphery of the pit where it is less likely to topple back into the centre. As a result, antlions can produce their pits — lined almost exclusively with small slippery grains to maximize powerful avalanches and hence prey capture — much more quickly than if they simply dig at the pit’s centre. Our demonstration, for the first time, of an animal utilizing self-stratification in granular media exemplifies the sophistication of extended phenotypes even if they are only formed from material found in the animal’s environment.
Issue Date: Mar-2019
Date of Acceptance: 27-Feb-2019
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/67265
DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2019.0365
ISSN: 1471-2954
Publisher: Royal Society, The
Journal / Book Title: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume: 286
Issue: 1899
Copyright Statement: © 2019 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Biology
Ecology
Evolutionary Biology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine - Other Topics
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
animal traps
spontaneous stratification
granular materials
optimized construction
self-organization
extended phenotype
ANT-LION LARVAE
PARTICLE-SIZE
CONSTRUCTION
MYRMELEON
NEUROPTERA
EFFICIENCY
SUBSTRATE
DECISION
DENSITY
DESIGN
animal traps
extended phenotype
granular materials
optimized construction
self-organization
spontaneous stratification
06 Biological Sciences
11 Medical and Health Sciences
07 Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences
Publication Status: Published
Online Publication Date: 2019-03-27
Appears in Collections:Condensed Matter Theory
Physics
Faculty of Natural Sciences



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