Home > Papers from 2012 > When to start searching

When to start searching

In the last 10 years of insect navigation research, one of the most interesting findings has been that not all species of ant will run off their entire Path Integrated home vector when displaced from a feeder to unfamiliar terrain. For instance, the Australian desert ant Melophorus has been shown to run off about 50% of their home vector before searching. Here, Cheung et al. take a modelling approach to ask whether there is a theoretically optimal point at which to stop following the path integrated vector and start searching. If one assumes that ants are familiar with a corridor of the world, due to their habitual idiosyncratic routes, then one can ask which search start-point is the most likely to lead to the discovery of a familiar part of the world when one has been displaced to unfamiliar terrain. Two different analytical methods lead to the same conclusion that one should start searching after 50% of your home vector has been run off. Of course this matches neatly with the result for Melophorus, though the interesting thing is to ask how these theoretical results will change for different species with different areas of familiar terrain.
Cheung A, Hiby L, Narendra A (2012) Ant Navigation: Fractional Use of the Home Vector. PLoS ONE 7(11): e50451. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050451
Categories: Papers from 2012
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