Home > Papers from 2012 > Learning walks in spiders

Learning walks in spiders

This paper gives a lovely description of a spatial behaviour in the wandering desert spider which reinforces the idea that, despite being nocturnal, they in fact use visual information as part of their navigational reportoire. Naive spiders were recorded leaving their burrows prior to their nightly wander through the desert looking for females. Using LEDs Thomas Nørgaard was able to record, in detail, their paths. Early paths showed a particular sinuosity that became less pronounced with experience. Analysis of this sinuosity show that the paths enable the spiders to view the burrow direction with the Anterior Lateral Eyes suggesting a role for the ALEs in visual homing. As the burrow itself is inconspicuous, it is likely that the spiders are viewing the silhouette of the terrain contrasting against the night sky.

Nørgaard T, Gagnon YL, Warrant EJ (2012) Nocturnal Homing: Learning Walks in a Wandering Spider? PLoS ONE 7(11): e49263.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049263

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