The Visual Orientation of Desert Ants, Cataglyphis bicolor, by Means of Terrestrial Cues
When in desert areas Cataglyphis ants are displaced from the nest entrance to any point more than 2 m apart, nearly all ants search around at random. Therefore a method is described to train the ants to a feeding place by simultaneously extinguishing all astromenotactical information about the azimuth of that place. Then the storage and use of information about terrestrial cues can be measured unambiguously. During a set of one foraging and one return run the ants receive information about a “route”, extending from the nest entrance to the feeding place and characterized by a specific constellation of tiny terrestrial cues. By offering artificial cues (black, vertically arranged two-dimensional screens) the significance of this route for reorientation can be markedly enhanced. A method is developed to quantify this effect of artificial horizon landmarks. In this way pattern recognition problems can be studied.
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