Home > Papers from 2016 > Navigating backwards

Navigating backwards

Sometimes experimental ideas are so simple and powerful that one cannot believe they haven’t been used before. Here is one such idea. The ability of ants to retrieve large food items is well documented, including the flexibility to carry food forwards, use teamwork or drag food backwards. This latter case is interesting for navigation because accurate navigation whilst moving backwards has implications for the mechanisms by which ants might use visual cues or implement compass guidance. Here, Ardin et al show that the navigation of zero vector ants, from locations close to their nest, is not diminished when pulling food items backwards. This suggests that navigation is not implemented by moment to moment visual matching of memories stored previously. However from the observations here, it is not clear whether directions are controlled as the ant is moving backwards or whether the direction is set when the ant is facing forwards and then other mechanisms are used to maintain a straight line.

Paul B. Ardin, Michael Mangan and Barbara Webb (2016) Ant Homing Ability Is Not Diminished When Traveling Backwards. Front. Behav. Neurosci., doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00069.

 

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Categories: Papers from 2016
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