Home > Papers from 2017 > Skylines for navigation

Skylines for navigation

A lovely paper here with some really nice behavioural experiments. Towne et al., have a long history of studying the use of skyline cues for navigation, almost 10 years ago they showed the important connection between the skyline and the compass system of bees. Here they look at the use of skyline cues for navigation, where learnt visual cues are used for setting a familiar direction. Using a small white arena they replicate a familiar skyline using black paint to create a silhouette. Bees are happy to set their direction relative to this artificial skyline even when it indicates a direction perpendicular or opposite to their normal homeward flight direction. Thus we now have good evidence that for bees, as for ants, the skyline is a sufficient source of information for navigation.
Another significant implication of this paper is that we can probe the visual knowledge of bees, that have foraged in natural complex environments, using a small scale and simple (elegant) experimental procedure. This could be a really powerful method.
Towne, W. F., Ritrovato, A. E., Esposto, A., & Brown, D. F. (2017). Honeybees use the skyline in orientation. Journal of Experimental Biology, jeb-160002.
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Categories: Papers from 2017
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