Polarized light use in the nocturnal bull ant, Myrmecia midas

Cody A. Freas*, Ajay Narendra, Corentin Lemesle, Ken Cheng

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    22 Citations (Scopus)
    16 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Solitary foraging ants have a navigational toolkit, which includes the use of both terrestrial and celestial visual cues, allowing individuals to successfully pilot between food sources and their nest. One such celestial cue is the polarization pattern in the overhead sky. Here, we explore the use of polarized light during outbound and inbound journeys and with different home vectors in the nocturnal bull ant, Myrmecia midas. We tested foragers on both portions of the foraging trip by rotating the overhead polarization pattern by ±45°. Both outbound and inbound foragers responded to the polarized light change, but the extent to which they responded to the rotation varied. Outbound ants, both close to and further from the nest, compensated for the change in the overhead e-vector by about half of the manipulation, suggesting that outbound ants choose a compromise heading between the celestial and terrestrial compass cues. However, ants returning home compensated for the change in the e-vector by about half of the manipulation when the remaining home vector was short (1-2m) and by more than half of the manipulation when the remaining vector was long (more than 4 m). We report these findings and discuss why weighting on polarization cues change in different contexts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number170598
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    Number of pages11
    JournalRoyal Society Open Science
    Volume4
    Issue number8
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2017

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

    Keywords

    • ants
    • celestial compass
    • polarized light
    • route maintenance and nocturnal navigation

    Fingerprint

    Dive into the research topics of 'Polarized light use in the nocturnal bull ant, <i>Myrmecia midas</i>'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this