Phase-dependent visual control of the zigzag paths of navigating wood ants

Lent, David D, Graham, Paul and Collett, Thomas S (2013) Phase-dependent visual control of the zigzag paths of navigating wood ants. Current Biology, 23 (23). pp. 2393-2399. ISSN 0960-9822

Full text not available from this repository.


Animals sometimes take sinuous paths to a goal. Insects, tracking an odor trail on the ground [1, 2 and 3] or moving up an odor plume in the air [4 and 5], generally follow zigzag paths. Some insects [6, 7 and 8] take a zigzag approach to visual targets, perhaps to obtain parallax information. How does an animal keep its overall path in the direction of the goal without disrupting a zigzag pattern? We describe here the wood ant's strategy when guided by a familiar visual scene. If their travel direction is correct, ants face the goal briefly after each turning point along their zigzag path. If the direction is wrong, they turn rapidly at this point to place the scene correctly on their retina. Such saccade-like turns are rare elsewhere in the zigzag. Similarly, when the scene is made to jump to a new position on their retina, ants wait until an expected goal-facing phase of the zigzag before turning to correct the imposed error. Correctly timed, intermittent control allows an animal to adjust its path without compromising additional roles for the zigzag pattern in gathering visual information or in using odor cues for guidance.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Paul Graham
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2016 08:43
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2016 08:43
📧 Request an update