Home > Papers from 2017 > Motor motifs matched to visual ecology

Motor motifs matched to visual ecology

In insect navigation research we often think of Cataglyphis desert ants as a touchstone or model system that we can use as a reference when comparing other insects. However, there are many species within the Cataglyphis genus and a range of habitat types within which they navigate. The variation within desert ant navigation strategies might actually be quite high and here it is consider how variation might relate to ecology. This paper beautifully shows the value of high-resolution videography by neatly capturing variations in the learning walks of Cataglyphis species from cluttered or barren terrain. Ants from cluttered terrain show very precise movements which result in accurate fixations of the nest. Such fixations are absent in Cataglyphis fortis, which inhabits visually inconspicuous terrain.  This is very suggestive of an accurate visual learning that can drive visual homing when visual information is available. We know that C. fortis can use  visual information, but is seemingly less primed to do so for nest localisation.

P N. Fleischmann, R Grob, R Wehner, and W Rössler (2017) Species-specific differences in the fine structure of learning walk elements in Cataglyphis ants J Exp Biol 2017 220:2426-2435. doi:10.1242/jeb.158147

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