The Ant Odometer: Stepping on Stilts and Stumps

  title={The Ant Odometer: Stepping on Stilts and Stumps},
  author={Matthias Wittlinger and R{\"u}diger Wehner and Harald Wolf},
  pages={1965 - 1967}
Desert ants, Cataglyphis, navigate in their vast desert habitat by path integration. They continuously integrate directions steered (as determined by their celestial compass) and distances traveled, gauged by as-yet-unknown mechanisms. Here we test the hypothesis that navigating ants measure distances traveled by using some kind of step integrator, or “step counter.” We manipulated the lengths of the legs and, hence, the stride lengths, in freely walking ants. Animals with elongated (“stilts… 

Mechanisms of three-dimensional (3D) path integration in the desert ant Cataglyphis fortis - odometry and slope detection

This work manipulates the lengths of the legs, and hence the stride lengths, in freely walking ants to test the hypothesis that navigating ants measure distances travelled by using some kind of step integrator, or “step counter”.

The desert ant odometer: a stride integrator that accounts for stride length and walking speed

The predicted changes in homing distance are in quantitative agreement with the experimental data, further supporting the pedometer hypothesis and demonstrating remarkable robustness of leg coordination and walking performance.

Estimation of homing distance in desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis, remains unaffected by disturbance of walking behaviour

Surprisingly, distance estimation and homing performance remained virtually unaffected even by the most severe interferences with walking behaviour, and it suggests that stride length is determined by robust signals of leg sense organs.

Walking on inclines: how do desert ants monitor slope and step length

It is shown that the ants' locomotor system is not influenced by inclined paths, and it is proposed that sensing forces acting on the ant's legs could provide the desired neuronal correlate employed in monitoring inclination and step length.

Optic flow odometry operates independently of stride integration in carried ants

It is shown that ants transported by nest mates are capable of measuring travel distance exclusively by the use of OF cues, and it is demonstrated that the information gained from the optic flowmeter cannot be transferred to the stride integrator.

How do backward walking ants (Cataglyphis velox) cope with navigational uncertainty?

Displacement experiments and alterations of the visual scenery reveal that ants do indeed recognise and use the learnt visual scenery to guide their path while walking backward, and show that backward homing ants estimate their directional certainty by combining visual familiarity with other cues such as their path integrator and the time spent backward.

Desert ants do not rely on sky compass information for the perception of inclined path segments

Changes in polarization perception can be ruled out as the crucial cue for gauging slopes, and it is concluded that slopes are monitored by a, still unknown, proprioceptive mechanism.

Propulsion in hexapod locomotion: how do desert ants traverse slopes?

Analysis of the alternating tripod gait of the desert ant Cataglyphis fortis together with ground reaction forces and weight-specific leg impulses during inclined locomotion reveals the mechanical function of the hind legs as the main brake on downslopes and the front legsAs the main motor on steep upslopes.