Desert ants locate Food by combining high sensitivity to food odors with extensive crosswind runs

Buehlmann, Cornelia, Graham, Paul, Hansson, Bill S. and Knaden, Markus (2014) Desert ants locate Food by combining high sensitivity to food odors with extensive crosswind runs. Current Biology, 24 (9). pp. 960-964. ISSN 0960-9822

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Abstract

Desert ants feeding on dead arthropods forage for food items that are distributed unpredictably in space and time in the food-scarce terrain of the Saharan salt pans [1]. Scavengers of the genus Cataglyphis forage individually and do not lay pheromone trails [ 2]. They rely primarily on path integration [3] for navigation and, in addition, use visual [4] and olfactory cues [ 5, 6 and 7]. While most studies have focused on the navigational mechanisms of ants targeting a familiar place like the nest or a learned feeding site, little is known about how ants locate food in their natural environment. Here we show that Cataglyphis fortis is highly sensitive to and attracted by food odors, especially the necromone linoleic acid, enabling them to locate tiny arthropods over several meters in distance. Furthermore, during the search for food, ants use extensive crosswind walks that increase the chances of localizing food plumes. By combining high sensitivity toward food odors with crosswind runs, the ants efficiently screen the desert for food and hence reduce the time spent foraging in their harsh desert environment.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Paul Graham
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2016 08:24
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2016 08:24
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/59379
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