Local vectors in desert ants: context-dependent landmark learning during outbound and homebound runs

J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2003 Mar;189(3):181-7. doi: 10.1007/s00359-003-0389-z. Epub 2003 Feb 13.


Desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis, associate nestward-directed vector memories (local vectors) with the sight of landmarks along a familiar route. This view-based navigational strategy works in parallel to the self-centred path integration system. In the present study we ask at what temporal stage during a foraging journey does the ant acquire nestward-directed local vector information from feeder-associated landmarks: during its outbound run to a feeding site or during its homebound run to the nest. Tests performed after two reversed-image training paradigms revealed that the ants associated such vectors exclusively with landmarks present during their homebound runs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ants / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Homing Behavior / physiology*
  • Learning / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology