Home > Papers from 2013 > Mapping navigational knowledge

Mapping navigational knowledge

How do you get home from somewhere you’ve never been before? This is a crucial question for us (as navigation scientists) because it relates to the mechanisms animals use for navigation and allows us to address big issues, such as the possibility for cognitive maps. Narendra et al. ask this question – which isn’t particularly novel. However, the reason this paper is exciting is that Narendra et al ask it with a beautiful experimental system: Long-lived ants that have stable foraging routes, and that can be tracked with differential GPS in areas where we can record and analyse ants’ eye views of the world. The headline result is that these ants can use visual cues to aim directly to their nest from novel locations up to 10m away from familiar ground. Furthermore, through analysis of panoramic images it can be shown that the information to guide these paths is theoretically available in panoramic views remembered from locations much closer to the nest than the novel release points. This really is beautiful data from a lovely system and promises to reveal lots about mechanisms, especially when combined with more detailed knowledge of the specific experience of individual foragers.

Ajay Narendra, Sarah Gourmaud and Jochen Zeil (2013) Mapping the navigational knowledge of individually foraging ants, Myrmecia croslandi. Proc. R. Soc. B 22 August 2013 vol. 280

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Categories: Papers from 2013
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