Subtle changes in the landmark panorama disrupt visual navigation in a nocturnal bull ant

Ajay Narendra, Fiorella Ramirez-Esquivel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The ability of ants to navigate when the visual landmark information is altered has often been tested by creating large and artificial discrepancies in their visual environment. Here, we had an opportunity to slightly modify the natural visual environment around the nest of the nocturnal bull ant Myrmecia pyriformis. We achieved this by felling three dead trees, two located along the typical route followed by the foragers of that particular nest and one in a direction perpendicular to their foraging direction. An image difference analysis showed that the change in the overall panorama following the removal of these trees was relatively little. We filmed the behaviour of ants close to the nest and tracked their entire paths, both before and after the trees were removed. We found that immediately after the trees were removed, ants walked slower and were less directed. Their foraging success decreased and they looked around more, including turning back to look towards the nest. We document how their behaviour changed over subsequent nights and discuss how the ants may detect and respond to a modified visual environment in the evening twilight period.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalPhilosophical transactions of the Royal Society b : biological sciences
Volume372
Issue number1717
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2017

Keywords

  • Myrmecia
  • learning walks
  • visual navigation
  • night-active
  • panorama
  • Learning walks
  • Visual navigation
  • Panorama
  • Night-active

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