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Uncertainty about nest position influences systematic search strategies in desert ants.


Merkle, T; Knaden, M; Wehner, R (2006). Uncertainty about nest position influences systematic search strategies in desert ants. Journal of Experimental Biology, 209(18):3545-3549.

Abstract

Foraging desert ants return to their starting point, the nest, by means of path integration. If the path-integration vector has been run off but the nest has not yet been reached, the ants engage in systematic search behavior. This behavior results in a system of search loops of ever increasing size and finally leads to a search density profile peaking at the location where the path integration system has been reset to zero. In this study we investigate whether this systematic search behavior is adapted to the uncertainty resulting from the preceding foraging run. We show first that the longer the distances of the foraging excursions, the larger the errors occurring during path integration, and second that the ants adapt their systematic search strategy to their increasing uncertainty by extending their search pattern. Hence, the density of the systematic search pattern is correlated with the ants' confidence in their path integrator. This confidence decreases with increasing foraging distances.

Foraging desert ants return to their starting point, the nest, by means of path integration. If the path-integration vector has been run off but the nest has not yet been reached, the ants engage in systematic search behavior. This behavior results in a system of search loops of ever increasing size and finally leads to a search density profile peaking at the location where the path integration system has been reset to zero. In this study we investigate whether this systematic search behavior is adapted to the uncertainty resulting from the preceding foraging run. We show first that the longer the distances of the foraging excursions, the larger the errors occurring during path integration, and second that the ants adapt their systematic search strategy to their increasing uncertainty by extending their search pattern. Hence, the density of the systematic search pattern is correlated with the ants' confidence in their path integrator. This confidence decreases with increasing foraging distances.

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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:15 September 2006
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:17
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:15
Publisher:Company of Biologists
ISSN:0022-0949
Publisher DOI:10.1242/jeb.02395
PubMed ID:16943494
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-689

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