Head roll stabilisation in the nocturnal bull ant Myrmecia pyriformis: Implications for visual navigation

Chloé A. Raderschall, Ajay Narendra, Jochen Zeil*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Ant foragers are known to memorise visual scenes that allow them to repeatedly travel along idiosyncratic routes and to return to specific places. Guidance is provided by a comparison between visual memories and current views, which critically depends on how well the attitude of the visual system is controlled. Here we show that nocturnal bull ants stabilise their head to varying degrees against locomotion-induced body roll movements, and this ability decreases as light levels fall. There are always un-compensated head roll oscillations that match the frequency of the stride cycle. Head roll stabilisation involves both visual and non-visual cues as ants compensate for body roll in complete darkness and also respond with head roll movements when confronted with visual pattern oscillations. We show that imperfect head roll control degrades navigation-relevant visual information and discuss ways in which navigating ants may deal with this problem.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1449-1457
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
    Volume219
    Issue number10
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2016

    Keywords

    • Ants
    • Dim light
    • Head stabilisation
    • Image-matching
    • Navigation
    • Vision

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