The effect of spatially restricted experience on extrapolating learned views in desert ants, Melophorus bagoti

Sudhakar Deeti*, Kazuki Fujii, Ken Cheng

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Desert ants are known for learning walks at the beginning of their foraging life, during which they learn terrestrial cues of the panorama and surrounding landmarks around their nest. Foragers retain memories of the visual cues of the nest panorama learned during the pre-foraging trials. When away from the nest, they can compare these stored views with their current vision to return to their nest. In this study we investigated whether spatially restricted foraging ants can extrapolate their memory of visual cues to unexperienced sites. We carried out two conditions to examine whether desert ants extrapolate learned views. In the first condition, naïve ants of Melophorus bagoti were restricted to a nest arena 1 m in radius with a 10 cm high wall (wall condition) for 3 days, then released at distant locations on the fourth day and focal individuals return trips were recorded. In the second condition, a 10 cm sunken metallic barrier was constructed around the nest (moat condition) and the restricted foragers that viewed the unrestricted visual panorama around the 1 m-radius nest arena were then displaced away from the nest as in the wall condition. In the wall condition, most of the ants were unable to orient in the correct heading towards the home direction. In the moat condition ants were able to correctly orient to the nest from displacement sites up to 8 m from the nest. We conclude that while travelling to unfamiliar sites, M. bagoti ants can extrapolate views learned from foraging in a restricted area when given unrestricted views.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1063-1070
    Number of pages8
    JournalAnimal Cognition
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


    • Desert ant
    • Extrapolation
    • Learning walks
    • Panorama
    • View-based navigation


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