A group of researchers found that the American cockroach is much better at decision making than other insects, while each individual of the species seem to display a different personality within its group. Scientists believe that those features helped cockroaches become great survivors since they see to quickly adapt to any hostile environment.
For their research, scientists involved a group of the six-legged pests in a controlled environment over a 3-month period. The team introduced dozens of Periplaneta americana individuals, or American cockroaches, in a well-lit arena that had a shelter in its center to provide the bugs with their much-loved shade.
Each insect carried a chip on its back that emitted data about their location to a central computer. The arena also was filmed with a camera during the experiment. For each stage of the experiment, which had 3 stages, scientists used 16 roaches.
The groups of American cockroaches were monitored over the course of several hours. Scientists wanted to learn whether they acted as a group when searching for shelter or they made their own decisions.
Issac Planas, one of the researchers involved in the experiment, said that his team was surprised to learn that cockroaches had amazing decision making abilities. Additionally, a cohort of other cockroach studies helped the scientists gather more insights on the strange creatures.
“Cockroaches are a simple animal, but they can reach a complex decision. So with little information, with little interactions, only knowing if I have a partner here or not, only with this information, they can make complex decisions,”
Mr. Planas explained.
The experiment’s main goal was to reveal the way a cockroach group reaches a decision. It was interesting to learn that roaches are different from ants when making decisions and more similar to sheep, bats, fish, birds, and even humans. Ants usually act as a whole entity within a group, while individuals are hard to be distinguished from one other.
Scientist noticed that cockroaches made their decision based on their affinity for groups and quickly seeking shelter and their aversion to light. But within a group, there were a lot of variances from one individual to another.
Rather than quickly gathering under the shelter, each cockroach acted as a different individual and reached the shelter on various times. But in the end, they all reached a group consensus and took shelter.
However, the roaches were influenced by their peers’ moves. For instance when one of them reached the shelter, other were influenced to o the same thing quicker. But, each cockroach, researchers explained, was ultimately responsible for its choices.
Image Source: PESTOP
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