3 years ago

Early foraging life: spatial and temporal aspects of landmark learning in the ant Cataglyphis noda

Wolfgang Rössler, Rüdiger Wehner, Pauline Nikola Fleischmann

Abstract

Within the powerful navigational toolkit implemented in desert ants, path integration and landmark guidance are the key routines. Here, we use cue-conflict experiments to investigate the interplay between these two routines in ants, Cataglyphis noda, which start their foraging careers (novices) with learning walks and are then tested at different stages of experience. During their learning walks, the novices take nest-centered views from various directions around the nest. In the present experiments, these learning walks are spatially restricted by arranging differently sized water moats around the nest entrance and thus, limiting the space available around the nest and the nest-feeder route. First, we show that the ants are able to return to the nest by landmark guidance only when the novices have had enough space around the nest entrance for properly performing their learning walks. Second, in 180° cue-conflict situations between path integration and landmark guidance, path integration dominates in the beginning of foraging life (after completion of the learning walks), but with increasing numbers of visits to a familiar feeder landmark guidance comes increasingly into play.

Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00359-018-1260-6

DOI: 10.1007/s00359-018-1260-6

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