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Desert ants use foraging distance to adapt the nest search to the uncertainty of the path integrator

Merkle, Tobias; Wehner, Rudiger

Description

Path integration enables desert ants to return to their nest on a direct path. However, the mechanism of path integration is error prone and the ants often miss the exact position of the nest entrance in which case they engage in systematic search behavior. The pattern produced by this search behavior is very flexible and enables the ants to take the errors into account that have been accumulated during foraging and homing. Here, we assess which parameter the desert ant Cataglyphis fortis uses...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorMerkle, Tobias
dc.contributor.authorWehner, Rudiger
dc.date.accessioned2015-12-10T23:00:19Z
dc.identifier.issn1045-2249
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/61305
dc.description.abstractPath integration enables desert ants to return to their nest on a direct path. However, the mechanism of path integration is error prone and the ants often miss the exact position of the nest entrance in which case they engage in systematic search behavior. The pattern produced by this search behavior is very flexible and enables the ants to take the errors into account that have been accumulated during foraging and homing. Here, we assess which parameter the desert ant Cataglyphis fortis uses to adapt its systematic search behavior to the uncertainty of its path integrator when deprived of additional external cues. We compared groups of ants that had covered the same distance between their nest and a food source but differed in the overall length of their foraging excursions. Our results show that the width of the ants' search density profile depends on the distance the ants have ventured out from the nest, that is, the length of the home vector, but not on the tortuousness of their outbound path, that is, the number of steps made during foraging. This distance value is readily available through the path integrator and obviously sufficient to calibrate the ants' systematic search patterns.
dc.publisherOxford University Press
dc.sourceBehavioral Ecology
dc.subjectKeywords: ant; desert; foraging behavior; homing behavior; uncertainty analysis; Animalia; Cataglyphis; Cataglyphis fortis; Formicidae Cataglyphis; Density profile; Foraging distance; Path integrator; Systematic search; Uncertainty
dc.titleDesert ants use foraging distance to adapt the nest search to the uncertainty of the path integrator
dc.typeJournal article
local.description.notesImported from ARIES
local.identifier.citationvolume21
dc.date.issued2010
local.identifier.absfor060201 - Behavioural Ecology
local.identifier.ariespublicationf2965xPUB602
local.type.statusPublished Version
local.contributor.affiliationMerkle, Tobias, College of Medicine, Biology and Environment, ANU
local.contributor.affiliationWehner, Rudiger, University of Zurich
local.description.embargo2037-12-31
local.bibliographicCitation.issue2
local.bibliographicCitation.startpage349
local.bibliographicCitation.lastpage355
local.identifier.doi10.1093/beheco/arp197
local.identifier.absseo970106 - Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
dc.date.updated2016-02-24T08:30:53Z
local.identifier.scopusID2-s2.0-76749086954
CollectionsANU Research Publications

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