Home > Papers from 2012 > The robustness of the ant’s odometer

The robustness of the ant’s odometer

Previous studies have shown that the primary input to the odometer of desert ants is some form of stride counter, though there seems also to be a role for visual input via ventrally experienced optic flow. In this paper, Wittlinger and Wolf investigate the robustness of the odometer by manipulating walking behaviour (by amputating 2 legs) or perception of optic flow (by capping the ventral part of the eye). A prediction might be that the role of optic flow would become more significant when walking is disrupted. In fact, it was found that neither of the manipulations (even when implemented together) influence the performance of the odometer, as measured by the search position (and search spread) in a test channel. This experiment therefore atests directly to the robustness of an ant’s odometric mechanisms.

Matthias Wittlinger, Harald Wolf (2012) Homing distance in desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis, remains unaffected by disturbance of walking behaviour and visual input, Journal of Physiology-Paris, doi 10.1016/j.jphysparis.2012.08.002.

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