Mapping the navigational knowledge of individually foraging ants, Myrmecia croslandi

Ajay Narendra, Sarah Gourmaud, Jochen Zeil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)


Ants are efficient navigators, guided by path integration and visual landmarks. Path integration is the primary strategy in landmark-poor habitats, but landmarks are readily used when available. The landmark panorama provides reliable information about heading direction, routes and specific location. Visual memories for guidance are often acquired along routes or near to significant places. Over what area can such locally acquired memories provide information for reaching a place? This question is unusually approachable in the solitary foraging Australian jack jumper ant, since individual foragers typically travel to one or two nest-specific foraging trees. We find that within 10 m from the nest, ants both with and without home vector information available from path integration return directly to the nest from all compass directions, after briefly scanning the panorama. By reconstructing panoramic views within the successful homing range, we show that in the open woodland habitat of these ants, snapshot memories acquired close to the nest provide sufficient navigational information to determine nest-directed heading direction over a surprisingly large area, including areas that animals may have not visited previously.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20130683
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1765
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • differential GPS
  • image difference function
  • landmark panorama
  • Myrmecia croslandi
  • navigation
  • visual homing


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