School of Biological Sciences
Macleay Building, A12, Room 253
University of Sydney
Phone +61 2 9351 5216
I am broadly interested in invertebrate behaviour with a special focus on collective behaviour in social insects and slime moulds. I am currently working on several projects.
Problem solving in slime moulds
Slime moulds are giant unicellular amoebas. Despite lacking a brain, these bizarre organisms are capable of complex problem solving. We have found that slime moulds are capable of balancing risk and food quality, adjusting their search strategies and balancing their nutritional uptake. I am broadly interested in exploring the behaviour of these organisms in more detail.
Dynamic problem solving in ants and slime moulds
The goal of this project is to understand how self-organized natural systems are able to solve problems under changing conditions. I aim to examine the mechanisms that allow these types of decisions to be made in two different decentralized systems: ant colonies and slime moulds. This is part of an international collaboration between the labs of Dr. Madeleine Beekman, Dr. Martin Middendorf, Dr. David Sumpter and Dr. Toshi Nakagaki.
Self-organised transportation networks in ants
I am interested in the structure, function and development of ant transportation networks. Human engineers and urban planners face the task of designing efficient and cost effective networks. Since building longer roads/tracks requires more resources (and is therefore more costly), a challenge for engineers is to design transportation networks that minimise resource use while still maintaining connectivity between cities, stations etc. Similar problems are faced by ant colonies which build trail networks to connect multiple nests to many food sources. How do ants 'design' transportation networks in the absence of centralised control? What, if anything, do ants optimise when building networks? This work is done in close collaboration with computer scientist Kai Ramsch at the University of Leipzig.
In addition to these main projects, I have also worked on a number of organisms including: bark beetles, honey bees, banana slugs, Laricobius nigrinius, and flour beetles.
- Latty, T., Ramsch, K, Ito,K, Nakagaki,T, Sumpter, DJT, Middendorf, M, and Beekman, M. Structure and formation of ant transportation networks. Early online: Proceedings of the royal society Interface.
- Latty, T. and Beekman, M. (2011). "Speed–accuracy trade-offs during foraging decisions in the acellular slime mould Physarum polycephalum." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 278(1705): 539.
- Latty, T. and Beekman, M. (2011). "Irrational decision-making in an amoeboid organism: transitivity and context-dependent preferences." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 278(1703): 307.
- Dussutour, A., Latty, T., Beekman, M. & SJ., S. 2010 Amoeboid organism solves complex nutritional challenges. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107, 4607-461
- Latty TM and Reid ML 2010 Who goes first? Condition and danger dependent pioneering in a group-living beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 64: 639-646
- Latty, TM and Beekman, M (2009). Food quality and the risk of light exposure effect patch choice decisions in the acellular slime mould Physarum polycephalum. Ecology 91: 22-27
- Latty, TM and Beekman, M (2009). Food quality affects search strategy in the acellular slime mould, Physarum polycephalum. Behavioural Ecology 20: 1160 - 1167.
- Latty,TM Duncan M, and Beekman M (2009). High bee traffic disrupts transfer of directional information in flying honey bee swarms. Animal Behaviour 78:117-121
Argentine Ant Networks
ABC's Future Tense, Radio Interview
Slime mould problem solving and Irrationality
ABC Science News:
Sydney Morning Herald:
The Guardian (UK):
Quirks and Quarks Podcast:
For more information, please visit my website: http://www.tanyalatty.com