Home > Papers from 2011 > Inside-out: The transition to foraging

Inside-out: The transition to foraging

Given that the constraints and requirements for an ant forager are very different to those for an interior worker, it is no surprise that there are brain changes that go along with the transition from ‘housework’ to foraging. Previous studies have documented changes in the Mushroom Bodies that occur at this transition and there appears to be a strong role for light as a trigger for these changes. In this paper Stieb et al tie together the neuronal and behavioural aspects of the transition to foraging. Behavioural observations of late stage interior ants shows a transition to digging -which exposes ants to light. The authors report that exposure to light increases locomotor activity and needs to be over more than 1 day to instigate the necessary neuronal development. Following the digging, there follows 2 days of short orientation runs which precede real foraging.

The emergent story is of an exquisitely organised set of interactions between behaviour and neuronal development and many interesting questions now arises, such as how these orientation walks are functionally organised and whether there is a developmental role which sets then apart from learning walks.

Visual experience affects both behavioral and neuronal aspects in the individual life history of the desert ant Cataglyphis fortis.  Sara Mae Stieb, Anna Hellwig, Rüdiger Wehner and Wolfgang Rössler Developmental Neurobiology (2011) DOI: 10.1002/dneu.20982

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Categories: Papers from 2011
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