Home > Papers from 2012 > Food Vectors: Do I need to remember how I got there or how I got home?

Food Vectors: Do I need to remember how I got there or how I got home?

Path integration isn’t just useful for safely connecting you to your nest. Of course, PI can also be used to generate and follow food vectors if one wants to return to a profitable location. This behaviour raises the interesting question of whether a food vector should be based on the outward journey to that food site or the subsequent return journey to he nest. Bolek et al addressed this question with a neat experiment where ants experienced a 20m route to food and a 10m return journey to their nest. On the subsequent outward trip, ants’ estimates of the food location were observed using search patterns in a clean channel. In these test situations, ants searched at a distance which was at the midway point between the length of their outward (20m) and their homeward (10m) trips. This suggests that ants use an average of the two trips. As the authors suggest,a particularly interesting follow-up would be to investigate whether these weightings (i.e. 50/50) change following problematic (i.e. involving lots of search) outward or homeward routes, where one might expect that the trip resulting in the least search would be subsequently weighted more heavily.

Siegfried Bolek, Matthias Wittlinger and Harald Wolf (2012) Establishing food site vectors in desert ants J Exp Biol 215:653-656

Categories: Papers from 2012
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