Home > Papers from 2013 > Visual guided search in natural environments

Visual guided search in natural environments

Systematic search in ants has mainly been studied in the context of what ants do when they have no other information, i.e. they have a zero vector output from their path integration system and the visual scene is unfamiliar. Of course ants will also show a systematic search when being guided by visual cues. This has been studied most often using large artificial geometric objects, so that a familiar visual array can be recreated on a test ground. The novel technique presented in this paper, by Schultheiss et al, was simply to cover the area surrounding a nest entrance with a large board so that the searches of experienced returning desert ant foragers can be recorded as they use the familiar visual scene to guide it. By adding visual clutter to the nest environs, it was possible to record searches in two different visual environments. The intuitive result was that searches had a tighter density when the visual world was more clutter. This makes sense of course because the view experienced by the ants changes more quickly with movement. The searches also gradually expended with time – a characteristic typically observed in unfamiliar envrionment. This experiment provides a neat starting point for what promises to be an informative approach to studying snts’ use of vision in complex natural environments.

Patrick Schultheiss, Antoine Wystrach, Eric L. G. Legge and Ken Cheng (2012) Information content of visual scenes influences systematic search of desert ants. J Exp Biol doi: 10.1242/jeb.075077

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Categories: Papers from 2013
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