Home > Papers from 2010 > Coming in from the heat

Coming in from the heat

The cost of searching for an inconspicuous nest entrance in the scorching heat is all the incentive that a desert ant needs to rapidly learn any landmark information that is available. In this paper Wehner and Muller show how even a single pebble can decrease time spent searching for the nest by a factor of 5 or more.  Wehner and Muller go on to investigate how searching time relates to the direction of nest approach when a nest is marked by two artificial cylinders.  They find that searching time is lowest (i.e. most accurate return) when ants inbound route goes close to a landmark, thus generating the largest change in retinal appearance of the landmarks during the final approach. These final routes are smooth and the paper throws up fascinating questions about how smooth inbound routes might be guided by discrete views stored during the learning walks of these ants. The learning walks were described in a paper earlier in the year (re-posted below).

Rüdiger Wehner and Martin Müller (2010) Piloting in desert ants: pinpointing the goal by discrete landmarks J Exp Biol 213, 4174-4179

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Categories: Papers from 2010
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