Home > Papers from 2016 > Relating complex behaviour to the sensory world (updated)

Relating complex behaviour to the sensory world (updated)

To  anybody who has ever attended a Neuroethology conference ,one voice will surely be familiar. At some point in proceedings, Jochen Zeil will remind us all that, as biologists, our goal is to understand the processes that govern natural behaviour in the real world. In that spirit, this paper presents a technical tour de force, showing how one can record in fine detail the movements of animals, and what’s more, recreate the sensory information they would have encountered during those movements. These techniques are applied to the learning flight behaviour of wasps. We have known since Tinbergen that these stereotyped flights of wasps are used to learn the appearance of the nest surrounds, in order to allow visual homing on subsequent return trips.  However, the fine details of this process are still elusive. Stürzl et al have applied their tracking and reconstruction methods to the problem and are able to propose a detailed scheme for how wasps control learning flights, store visual information and then utilise it. One of the most interesting suggestions is that stored views are associated with specific movements, so that views define the edges of an approach corridor and wasps move down this corridor by ‘bouncing’ off the view defined boundaries. Perhaps more importantly, this paper shows the promise of these methods, and hopefully we will see many more studies of this type in the next few years.
Update: There is also a Dispatch piece that goes with this article. In it, Collett et al. discuss the new results in the light of different models of view based homing in insects.
Stürzl, W., Zeil, J., Boeddeker, N., & Hemmi, J. M. (2016). How Wasps Acquire and Use Views for Homing. Current Biology.

Collett, T. S., Philippides, A, Hempel de Ibarra N. (2016) Insect Navigation: How Do Wasps Get Home? Current Biology, 26, R166 – R168

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Categories: Papers from 2016
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