Path integration, views, search, and matched filters

the contributions of Rüdiger Wehner to the study of orientation and navigation

Ken Cheng*, Cody A. Freas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


Rüdiger Wehner’s work on insect orientation and navigation has influenced many scientists studying navigation, not only in ants and bees, but in other animals as well. We review the scientific legacy of six topics arising from Wehner’s work on navigation. The polarisation compass is a chapter with a lot of behavioural and neurobiological detail. It has influenced the study of polarisation vision in other systems, and led Wehner to formulate the concept of a matched filter. The matched filter has probably had earlier formulations, but Wehner’s paper on it has been much cited in studies on navigation and in other fields. The polarisation compass serves the task of path integration in insects. Work on path integration took off in the 1980s with work on desert ants and rodents. The use of terrestrial visual cues, landmarks or the panorama in view-based matching is another major theme of navigational research today. Search strategies were also well described in desert ants, and this line of research helped to launch theoretical and empirical developments in searching behaviour, now a lively area of research. Finally, robotic work has often drawn inspiration from work on insect navigation. We end with some discussion of current research directions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number984
Pages (from-to)517-532
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2015



  • Polarisation compass
  • Path integration
  • Matched filter
  • Panorama
  • Search

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