A motion compensation treadmill for untethered wood ants (Formica rufa): evidence for transfer of orientation memories from free-walking training

Goulard, Roman, Buehlmann, Cornelia, Niven, Jeremy E, Graham, Paul and Webb, Barbara (2020) A motion compensation treadmill for untethered wood ants (Formica rufa): evidence for transfer of orientation memories from free-walking training. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 223 (24). pp. 1-12. ISSN 0022-0949

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Abstract

The natural scale of insect navigation during foraging makes it challenging to study under controlled conditions. Virtual reality and trackball setups have offered experimental control over visual environments while studying tethered insects, but potential limitations and confounds introduced by tethering motivates the development of alternative untethered solutions. In this paper, we validate the use of a motion compensator (or ‘treadmill’) to study visually driven behaviour of freely moving wood ants (Formica rufa). We show how this setup allows naturalistic walking behaviour and preserves foraging motivation over long time frames. Furthermore, we show that ants are able to transfer associative and navigational memories from classical maze and arena contexts to our treadmill. Thus, we demonstrate the possibility to study navigational behaviour over ecologically relevant durations (and virtual distances) in precisely controlled environments, bridging the gap between natural and highly controlled laboratory experiments.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2020 15:27
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2021 15:30
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/95124

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