Ecological Artificial Life - contents
This application provides a basic simulation of bees' life-cycles. It has simplified and abstracted various aspects, so it isn't as realistic as it could be, but it provides a good starting point for future development.
With regard to software development, the metaphor of the biodome allows for the introduction of additional species in the future. For example, it would be possible to compare different methods of pollination in flowers (wind versus bees), or to see how bees handle attacks by birds (such as woodpeckers).
More generally, it will always be possible to increase the level of detail in the model. This could involve more detailed graphics, or a more sophisticated representation of each bee. For example, when a scout bee returns to the hive, she performs a "waggle dance" to tell other workers about a food source, where the precise movements will indicate the direction of the food and the amount of food available there. In my model, I simply have a message sent from one bee to another that conveys this information. However, it would be possible to animate the dance, and write an optics module to let other bees process this visual information. That would be overkill in this case, but it might be more useful if you wanted different species to interpret the same image in different ways, such as varying colour perceptions for flowers.
Taking a different approach, it would also be possible to model alternate strategies for a species, to find out whether or not they are evolutionarily stable. This wouldn't have a direct application for real-life, but it might help to answer some theoretical questions. For example, if we discover that modifying the bee's strategy results in an unstable state then that would explain why we haven't discovered any hives which use that strategy.
In addition to the "kill queen" option, it would be interesting to have other ways to modify the environment, such as snow.
This page was last updated on 2004-09-05 by John C. Kirk