What can we learn from ants in rectangular arenas?
Re-posted. Article now published.
Within the vertebrate navigation literature there is a large volume of research on the use of geometrical cues for orientation within a bounded space. This is part of a language of orientation cues which presupposes that animals segregate the world in cues of different types (features, distal cues, geometry cues etc.). By showing in their 2009 paper that ants makes similar “geometrical” errors to vertebrates, Wystrach et al opened a debate about what types (levels even) of navigation mechanism are required to explain the apparent segregation of the world into geometrical and feature cues. The strong suggestion then was that a simple view based mechanism can account for the the “appearance” of both orientation strategies. Here, the same authors go into a greater level of detail about how view-based strategies can explain the performance of ants in a rectangular arena task. The article has particular value in demonstrating the value of recording in detail the visual information available to an animal during an orientation experiment.
Wystrach, A., Cheng, K., Sosa, S., & Beugnon, G. (2011). Geometry, Features, and Panoramic Views: Ants in Rectangular Arenas. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes.
Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0023886