Home > Papers from 2016 > How do different species utilise their ant navigation toolkit?

How do different species utilise their ant navigation toolkit?

One of the most important, but deceptively tricky, experiments in insect navigation is to compare different species with the same experimental challenge. It is this kind of experiment that is needed if we are to understand how navigational strategies are tuned to different ecologies and whether such differences are due to the ecology directly selecting for the appropriate balance of strategies or species level genetic differences in the navigational toolkit of ants. This paper from Schultheiss et al is a really nice example of an experiment which manages to address these questions. Two species of Melophorus ants from different ecologies (a salt pan and semi-arid vegetative area) were tested with the same experiment. Ant nests were marked with large landmarks during training and for tests the paths of homing ants were recorded with the nest landmarks in place or absent. As previously reported, ants that live in habitats with complex visual information available will follow path integration for only a proportion of the home vector length, before commencing systematic search for the next, if there is a mismatch between the learned visual world and the visual scene in the tests. Whereas, ants from the salt-pan will follow PI for the entire home vector length before searching for the nest. Therefore we have good evidence for a species level difference in the implementation of cue integration in ants.

Schultheiss, P., Stannard, T., Pereira, S., Reynolds, A. M., Wehner, R., & Cheng, K. (2016). Similarities and differences in path integration and search in two species of desert ants inhabiting a visually rich and a visually barren habitat. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 1-11.

Categories: Papers from 2016
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