The ant’s estimation of distance travelled: experiments with desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis

  title={The ant’s estimation of distance travelled: experiments with desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis},
  author={Stefan Sommer and R{\"u}diger Wehner},
  journal={Journal of Comparative Physiology A},
Foraging desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis, monitor their position relative to the nest by path integration. They continually update the direction and distance to the nest by employing a celestial compass and an odometer. In the present account we addressed the question of how the precision of the ant’s estimate of its homing distance depends on the distance travelled. We trained ants to forage at different distances in linear channels comprising a nest entrance and a feeder. For testing we… 

Desert ants compensate for navigation uncertainty

During foraging trips, desert ants Cataglyphis fortis do not rely only on their well-studied path integration system but also use olfactory cues when approaching a familiar food source, and the results unambiguously support the second strategy.

Desert ants use foraging distance to adapt the nest search to the uncertainty of the path integrator

The results show that the width of the ants' search density profile depends on the distance the ants have ventured out from the nest, but not on the tortuousness of their outbound path, that is, the number of steps made during foraging.

Desert ants adjust their approach to a foraging site according to experience

  • H. Wolf
  • Environmental Science
    Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology
  • 2007
Desert ants exhibit considerable short-term flexibility in their approach, and are evidently able to decide upon leaving the nest which direction to choose toward the feeder, depending on current wind direction (that fluctuates slightly during the day).

Path integration in desert ants, Cataglyphis: how to make a homing ant run away from home

  • David AndelR. Wehner
  • Psychology
    Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological Sciences
  • 2004
During the repeated landmark–guided home runs the an's path integrator runs continually, so that the current state of the homebound vector increasingly exceeds the reference state, and the dramatic result is that the homing ants run away from home.

Path integration in a three-dimensional world: the case of desert ants

  • B. Ronacher
  • Geology
    Journal of Comparative Physiology A
  • 2020
Desert ants use path integration to return from foraging excursions on a shortcut way to their nests. Intriguingly, when walking over hills, the ants incorporate the ground distance, the paths’

Finding the nest: inbound searching behaviour in the Australian desert ant, Melophorus bagoti

Path integration in a three-dimensional maze: ground distance estimation keeps desert ants Cataglyphis fortis on course

The results show clearly that it is the ground distance that Cataglyphis fortis feeds into its path integrator, and suggest that the ants are able to keep an accurate home vector also in hilly terrain.

Neural population coding of movement direction for path integration

A new neuronal model for path integration system that includes the first-order low-pass filter for a leaky integrator and a population coding of neurons with a circular array of direction neurons for movement direction is introduced.

The Desert Ant's Navigational Toolkit: Procedural Rather than Positional Knowledge

This essay will focus on the architecture of the insect’s navigational toolkit, finding that desert ants use the information provided by their PI and LN systems in a strictly cue-dependent procedural way rather than by acquiring and using a cartographical representation, or survey map, of their foraging terrain.

Vector navigation in desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis: celestial compass cues are essential for the proper use of distance information

The results suggest that the path integrator cannot process the distance information accumulated by the odometer while ants are deprived of celestial compass information, and directional cues are a prerequisite for the proper use of travel-distance information by ants.



Distance estimation in the third dimension in desert ants

The results suggest a much more sophisticated mechanism of distance estimation than hitherto thought, in which the ants must be able to measure the slopes of undulating terrain and to integrate this information into their "odometer" for the distance estimation process.

Ant odometry in the third dimension

This work investigates for the first time how an animal's odometer operates when a path integration task has to be accomplished that includes a vertical component.

Desert ants Cataglyphis fortis use self-induced optic flow to measure distances travelled

Even though optic flow cues are not the only ones used by the ants, the experiments show that ants are obviously able to exploit such cues for estimation of travel distance, indicating that the motion sensitive mechanism involved is different from mechanisms mediating the optomotor response.

Searching behaviour of desert ants, genusCataglyphis (Formicidae, Hymenoptera)

What is especially characteristic of the ant's searching pattern is the oscillatingd/t-function which clearly demonstrates that the searching ant repeatedly returns to the origin, even after it has walked, within one hour, along a search trajectory of more than 1 km.

Lateral optic flow does not influence distance estimation in the desert ant Cataglyphis fortis.

Walking desert ants do not depend on self-induced visual flow-field cues in gauging the distance they have travelled, as do flying honeybees, but can measure locomotor distance exclusively by idiothetic means.

Distance estimation by foraging honeybees

  • EschBurns
  • Engineering
    The Journal of experimental biology
  • 1996
An 'optical flow hypothesis': bees use the speed of retinal image motion perceived from the ground to estimate the distance flown, because flight altitude is important for distance estimation by Retinal image flow, because objects move faster and farther across the retina when the bee flies closer to the ground.

Visual navigation in insects: coupling of egocentric and geocentric information

The flexible use of vectors, snapshots and landmark-based routes suffices to interpret the insect's behaviour and the cognitive-map approach in particular and the representational paradigm in general are discussed.

The visual centring response in desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis.

When negotiating their way through cluttered environments, desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis, tend to run along the midlines of the alleys formed by adjacent low shrubs. This 'centring response' was

Path integration in desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis.

  • M. MüllerR. Wehner
  • Computer Science
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
  • 1988
This work experimentally manipulates ants' outbound trajectories to elucidate the ant's way of computing its mean home vector and shows that the ants solve this path integration problem not by performing a true vector summation but by employing a computationally simple approximation.

Optokinetic speed control and estimation of travel distance in walking honeybees

  • H. Schöne
  • Biology
    Journal of Comparative Physiology A
  • 2004
Honeybees returning from foraging trips were video-filmed while they walked through a narrow transparent gangway to reach the hive entrance, suggesting that the speed of optic flow controls thespeed of locomotion and might therefore serve for assessing the distance travelled.