Traveling in clutter: navigation in the Central Australian desert ant Melophorus bagoti

Behav Processes. 2009 Mar;80(3):261-8. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2008.10.015. Epub 2008 Nov 13.


The Central Australian desert ant Melophorus bagoti is the most thermophilic ant on the continent. It comes out to forage during the hottest part of the day in the summer months. The ant shares a cluttered, plant-filled habitat with other arthropods and uses a range of navigational strategies. We review recent studies on this species concerning its use of habitual routes, distant landmarks, landmarks around the nest, and path integration, which is keeping track of the distance and direction traveled from one's starting point. Functional predictions concerning the acquisition, retention, and integration of memories of distances and of landmarks are also reviewed, illuminating the behavioral ecology of spatial cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ants / physiology*
  • Australia
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Cues
  • Environment
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology
  • Homing Behavior / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Spatial Behavior / physiology*