Home > Papers from 2013 > How do odours and path integration interact?

How do odours and path integration interact?

For Cataglyphis ants, there are two particularly significant odours – are used to pinpoint food or nest. The nest is indicated by a Co2 plume, whereas food is indicated by complex molecules given off by recently dead insects. Before odour following can take place – guidance to the vicinity of food or nest is often driven by path integration. Here, Buehlman et al. show that ants will ignore Co2 plumes when they still have a large home vector, but are nevertheless attracted by food odours when a learnt food vector is still large. The pattern of results obviously reflects an adaptive solution, as you need to make sure you enter your own nest, though you don’t care whether the food you get is from the same patch as you have previously visited. The interesting question now is to ask whether this is driven by cognitive mechanisms are whether the simple sensori-motor ouptut of PI interacts differently with the potential plume following of different odours.

Buehlmann C, Hansson BS, Knaden M. (2013) Flexible weighing of olfactory and vector information in the desert ant, Cataglyphis fortis. Biol Lett 9: 20130070.

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