Home > Papers from 2014 > Bees thinking out of the box

Bees thinking out of the box

In recent years there have been a series of experiments where insects have been asked to perform spatial tasks in rectangular arenas. The interest in this particular experimental arena is because it is a classic spatial paradigm for rodents who in such arenas show a confusion between diagonally opposite corners. That finding had traditionally been used as evidence for a dedicated geometry module which animals use to extract the principal axis of a space. However similar behaviours observed in insects are usually interpreted in terms of view-based matching. Here Dittmar et al., show how in simple geometric arenas, where two corners may be ambiguous, insects have another trick up their sleeve. They incorporate a short route (inspecting cues out-side of the arena) into their routine and thus use extra-arena cues to disambiguate the task.

Dittmar, L., Stürzl, W., Jetzschke, S., Mertes, M., & Boeddeker, N. (2014). Out of the box: how bees orient in an ambiguous environment. Animal Behaviour,89, 13-21.

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