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The ant odometer: stepping on stilts and stumps.


Wittlinger, M; Wehner, R; Wolf, H (2006). The ant odometer: stepping on stilts and stumps. Science, 312(5782):1965-1967.

Abstract

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") or shortened legs ("stumps") take larger or shorter strides, respectively, and concomitantly misgauge travel distance. Travel distance is overestimated by experimental animals walking on stilts and underestimated by animals walking on stumps.

Abstract

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") or shortened legs ("stumps") take larger or shorter strides, respectively, and concomitantly misgauge travel distance. Travel distance is overestimated by experimental animals walking on stilts and underestimated by animals walking on stumps.

Citations

154 citations in Web of Science®
160 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Zoology (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:30 June 2006
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:17
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:15
Publisher:American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
ISSN:0036-8075
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1126912
PubMed ID:16809544

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