Group size and its effects on collective organization

Anna Dornhaus, Scott Powell, Sarah Bengston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Many insects and arthropods live in colonies or aggregations of varying size. Group size may affect collective organization either because the same individual behavior has different consequences when displayed in a larger group or because larger groups are subject to different constraints and selection pressures than smaller groups. In eusocial colonies, group size may have similar effects on colony traits as body size has on organismal traits. Social insects may, therefore, be useful to test theories about general principles of scaling, as they constitute a distinct level of organization. However, there is a surprising lack of data on group sizes in social insects and other group-living arthropods, and multiple confounding factors have to be controlled to detect effects of group size. If such rigorous studies are performed, group size may become as important to understanding collective organization as is body size in explaining behavior and life history of individual organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-141
Number of pages19
JournalAnnual review of entomology
StatePublished - 2012


  • Caste
  • Colony size
  • Communication
  • Division of labor
  • Scaling
  • Self-organization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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