Home > Papers from 2012 > The interaction of pheromone trails and complex routes.

The interaction of pheromone trails and complex routes.

It is well-known that even in trail laying ants, an individual forager will trust her own knowledge over that provided by the trail. Most of what we know about this interaction comes from T-maze experiments where the switch from public to private knowledge is extremely quick. Here Czaczkes et al. demonstrate that the need for pheromones is much more significant with more complex routes, for instance where ants are asked to learn alternating choices in a double T-maze.

Of course in nature complex routes are caused by physical objects which are absent in elevated T-mazes (as used here). A really interesting follow-up would be to replicate the experiment with physical objects ‘causing’ the bifurcations therefore creating a more natural visual ecology and a more realistic route learning task.
Czaczkes, T. J., Grüter, C., Ellis, L., Wood, E., & Ratnieks, F. L. (2012). Ant foraging on complex trails: route learning and the role of trail pheromones in Lasius niger. The Journal of Experimental Biology.
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Categories: Papers from 2012
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