Ant colonies organize their foraging as well as other activities using indirect communication by laying pheromone trails (stygmergy) or using direct communication between individuals (invitation behavior). Mass recruitment by trail laying species has been widely studied (see, for example, this paper), is reasonably well understood, and has served has served as an inspiration for the solution of various computational problems (e.g. ant colony optimization). A excellent overview of this is given in Self-Organization in Biological Systems by Scott Camazine et al. (eds.) and in Information Processing in Social Insects by Claire Detrain et al. (eds.).
Recent studies suggest that recruitment by invitation behavior results in different properties on the colony level, potentially allowing the colony to adapt more quickly to changing environments. The project aims to understand (some of) the differences between these two forms of organization. We compare the two behaviors by performing parallel experiments with two different species in the lab (you can actively participate) and attempt to model the behavior with simulation models and/or analytic dynamic system models.