Home > Papers from 2014 > Homing from familiar and unfamiliar locations

Homing from familiar and unfamiliar locations

In the Journal of Insect Behaviour, Volkan Aksoy presents some interesting displacement studies undertaken with navigating Formica ants. Full Vector ants were displaced from a feeder to one of two locations, one location was close to the feeder and one was distant to both feeder and nest. The important comparison comes from using two groups of ants for each of the displacements. One group were experienced foragers, but had no previous experience of the particular feeder location used in these experiments. The second group had become familiar with that feeder location over two days. Ants who had become familiar with the feeder location produced paths that were parallel to their habitual homeward route from both near and distant release locations. In contrast ants experiencing the feeder location for the first time were nest-oriented from the near release point and lost from the far release point. This strongly suggests that as ants develop habitual foraging routes they associate vectors with the feeder location. From this data-set it is hard to decide between three possible explanations: (i) Ants may recall the PI co-ordinates that they usually experience at the feeder and then PI home from that location – something that has never been demonstrated previously; (ii) Ants may recall a Local Vector contextually primed by the feeder; (iii) Ants may be able to set a visually defined direction using information from the distant panorama, something that might not be too different at different locations. Future experiments, especially if coupled with panoramic image statistics analysis, promise to be revealing.

Aksoy, V. (2013). Experience Based Use of Landmark and Vector Based Orientation During Homing by the Ant Formica cunicularia (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). J. Insect Behaviour
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Categories: Papers from 2014
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