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Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-376

Narendra, A; Cheng, K; Wehner, R (2007). Acquiring, retaining and integrating memories of the outbound distance in the Australian desert ant Melophorus bagoti. Journal of Experimental Biology, 210(4):570-577.

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Estimation of distance travelled (odometry) forms a vital part of navigation for solitarily foraging ants. In this study we investigated the properties of odometric memory in the Australian desert ant Melophorus bagoti. Ants were trained to travel in linear channels to a feeder placed at 6·m or 12·m from the nest. We determined if the ability to estimate distances accurately increased with experience. We also determined the delay at which the odometric memory started to decay at both these distances. Ants with six trials of experience did not get better at estimating distances and the odometric memory decayed after a 24·h delay. We then determined if ants integrated their latest odometric memory with their previous memories. We did this by training two groups of ants for five trials, one group to 6·m and another to 12·m, and then halving or doubling the outbound distance on their sixth trip, respectively. The ant’s estimate was noted when the ants were released either immediately or after a 24·h delay. Ants always estimated their last outbound distance when released immediately. However, they switched to routebased navigation rather than estimating distances after a 24·h delay (at which time their odometric memory would have decayed).


35 citations in Web of Science®
37 citations in Scopus®
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32 downloads since deposited on 11 Feb 2008
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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)
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:14
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:13
Publisher:Company of Biologists
Additional Information:Free full text article
Publisher DOI:10.1242/jeb.02678
PubMed ID:17267642

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