Home > Papers from 2014 > The influence of landmarks on tandem running

The influence of landmarks on tandem running

Tandem running is a recruitment strategy by which a knowledgeable individual leads a naive ant to a new resource. For the well-studied Temnothorax albipennis this is often a new nest location. From a single tandem run, the follower ant is able to derive enough information to guide its own route to the new location. Here, Basari et al. investigate what happens when tandem runs are interrupted, specifically whether visual landmarks play a role in the paths taken after interruption. Across these experiments ants tended to return to their old nest (rather than continue in the direction of the tandem run) but only after a period of confusion. When large landmarks were removed from the arena (at the same time as the interruption) the period of confusion was prolonged. These results suggest interesting possibilities: (i) follower ants might learn orientational cues from the landmark in the first portion of the route, but try to use this information to get back to the original nest. (ii) The information from the landmark might be needed for maintaining any type of straight path. (iii) The removal of the landmark may provoke confusion. Further study should prove fruitful in elaborating what (if any) visual information is learnt and whether path integration plays a role for these ants.

Basari, N., Bruendl, A. C., Hemingway, C. E., Roberts, N. W., Sendova-Franks, A. B., & Franks, N. R. (2013). Landmarks and ant search strategies after interrupted tandem runs. The Journal of experimental biology, jeb-087296.
Categories: Papers from 2014
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