Home > Papers from 2014 > Finding sparse food items in the desert

Finding sparse food items in the desert

Whilst studying navigation we often ignore the natural foraging task that faces our study species. Natural food distributions are not always as nest as experimental feeders. This paper from Buehlmann et al. explicitly bucks that trend as they ask what mechanisms are employed by foraging Cataglyphis fortis in order to locate the sparsely distributed dead arthropods that they forage on. The paper details two main findings. Firstly that ants use the necromone linoleic acid to detect food items and secondly that ants orient their paths perpendicular to the wind whilst searching for food such that they maximise the chances of encountering a odour plume from a food item. Looking at thee two findings together one can calculate the impressive area of desert that ants are able to screen for food during their foraging trips.

Buehlmann, C., Graham, P., Hansson, B. S., & Knaden, M. (2014). Desert Ants Locate Food by Combining High Sensitivity to Food Odors with Extensive Crosswind Runs. Current Biology.

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