I am exploring how fire ants raft responds to different fluid conditions. The flow conditions that we are investigating are: rigid-body rotation, Taylor-Couette vortex, and uniform flow. I am interested in seeing how rafts deform according to the environmental cues and how individual behavior contributes to raft deformation.
I have found that when fire ants are rotating, the ants on the raft explore less. This is potentially because they need to hold onto the raft to prevent falling(imagine walking in the Tea Cups in the amusement parks). Furthermore, rafts shrink when they are sheared by the fluid flow at the boundary.
Our preliminary result also shows that rafts do elongate in the presence of uniform flow! We are working to understand how the response is driven.