Polarised skylight and the landmark panorama provide night-active bull ants with compass information during route following

Samuel F. Reid, Ajay Narendra, Jan M. Hemmi, Jochen Zeil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Navigating animals are known to use a number of celestial and terrestrial compass cues that allow them to determine and control their direction of travel. Which of the cues dominate appears to depend on their salience. Here we show that night-active bull ants attend to both the pattern of polarised skylight and the landmark panorama in their familiar habitat. When the two directional cues are in conflict, ants choose a compromise direction. However, landmark guidance appears to be the primary mechanism of navigation used by forager ants, with those cues in the direction of heading having the greatest influence on navigation. Different colonies respond to the removal of these cues to different degrees, depending on the directional information provided by the local landmark panorama. Interestingly, other parts of the surrounding panorama also influence foraging speed and accuracy, suggesting that they too play a role in navigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-370
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume214
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Ant
  • landmark panorama
  • myrmecia pyriformis
  • navigation
  • nocturnal foraging
  • orientation
  • polarised skylight

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