How might ants use panoramic views for route navigation?

J Exp Biol. 2011 Feb 1;214(Pt 3):445-51. doi: 10.1242/jeb.046755.


Studies of insect navigation have demonstrated that insects possess an interesting and sophisticated repertoire of visual navigation behaviours. Ongoing research seeks to help us understand how these behaviours are controlled in natural complex environments. A necessary complement to behavioural studies is an understanding of the sensory ecology within which an animal behaves. To this end we have analysed ants'-perspective views of a habitat within which desert ant navigation is well studied. Results from our analysis suggest that: parsimonious visual strategies for homing and route guidance are effective over behaviourally useful distances even in cluttered environments; that these strategies can function effectively using only the skyline heights as input; and that the simplicity and efficacy of using stored views as a visual compass makes it a viable and robust mechanism for route guidance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ants / physiology*
  • Cues
  • Desert Climate
  • Homing Behavior*
  • Locomotion
  • Photography
  • Space Perception
  • Spatial Behavior
  • Travel
  • Vision, Ocular