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Wind and sky as compass cues in desert ant navigation


Müller, M; Wehner, R (2007). Wind and sky as compass cues in desert ant navigation. Naturwissenschaften, 94(7):589-594.

Abstract

While integrating their foraging and homing paths, desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis, depend on external compass cues. Whereas recent research in bees and ants has focused nearly exclusively on the polarization compass, two other compass systems—the sun compass and the wind (anemo) compass—as well as the mutual interactions of all these compass systems have received little attention. In this study, we show that of the two visual compass systems, it is only the polarization compass that invariably outcompetes the wind compass, while the sun compass does so only under certain conditions. If the ants are experimentally deprived of their polarization compass system, but have access simultaneously to both their sun compass and their wind compass, they steer intermediate courses. The intermediate courses shift the more towards the wind compass course, the higher the elevation of the sun is in the sky.

While integrating their foraging and homing paths, desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis, depend on external compass cues. Whereas recent research in bees and ants has focused nearly exclusively on the polarization compass, two other compass systems—the sun compass and the wind (anemo) compass—as well as the mutual interactions of all these compass systems have received little attention. In this study, we show that of the two visual compass systems, it is only the polarization compass that invariably outcompetes the wind compass, while the sun compass does so only under certain conditions. If the ants are experimentally deprived of their polarization compass system, but have access simultaneously to both their sun compass and their wind compass, they steer intermediate courses. The intermediate courses shift the more towards the wind compass course, the higher the elevation of the sun is in the sky.

Citations

30 citations in Web of Science®
34 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Zoology (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:15 March 2007
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:14
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:13
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0028-1042
Publisher DOI:10.1007/s00114-007-0232-4

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