Home > Papers from 2012 > The role of individual experience in cue-weighting

The role of individual experience in cue-weighting

One of the most interesting current questions in insect navigation concerns how different navigational modalities interact. There are important debates to be had about the necessary ‘cognitive’ mechanisms for cue integration and also how environmental and species differences change the optimal balance of cue use. We do know that different species ‘trust’ path integration to different degrees, and that this varies as a function of the visual clutter in their environment. Here, Cheng et al. utilise a valuable natural resource to investigate differences between ants from the same species that happen to live in different visual ecologies. Melophorus normally live in visually-cluttered environments, however a balloon field near Alice Springs means that a rare colony can be found in an open area. Ants from this nest and a ‘normal’ nest were tested to see how much of their Path Integrated home vector they would run off before switching to a visually-guided search. Ants from the cluttered environment switched more readily, suggesting that their experience of cluttered environment was influencing their ‘trust’ in PI.

Ken Cheng, Eliza J. T. Middleton, and Rüdiger Wehner (2012) Vector-based and landmark-guided navigation in desert ants of the same species inhabiting landmark-free and landmark-rich environments. J Exp Biol 2012;215 3169-3174

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