The evolution of networks is constrained by spatial properties of the environment; a characterization that is true in both biological and built networks. Hence built networks such as urban streets can be compared to biological networks to reveal differences in efficiency and complexity. This study assessed foraging networks created by the slime-mold Physarium polycephalum on proportional 3D-printed topographic maps of metropolitan city of Los Angeles, California. Rapidly-generated isomorphic solutions were found to be consistently and statistically shorter than existing roadways in system length. Slime mold also allocated resources to supporting key nodes, analogous to how heavy traffic flows through major intersections. Further, chemical deterrents inhibited exploration of slime mold in selected areas and allows for testing of network redundancy and system resilience, such as after an earthquake or wildfire.
Deen SH, Kuzmenko T, Asghari H, Willette DA. (2020) Investigating Los Angeles’ urban roadway network from a biologically-formed perspective. PeerJ, 8: e8238.