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Naturwissenschaften. 2007 Jul;94(7):589-94. Epub 2007 Mar 15.

Wind and sky as compass cues in desert ant navigation.

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  • 1Institute of Zoology, University of Zürich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057, Zürich, Switzerland.


While integrating their foraging and homing paths, desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis, depend on external compass cues. Whereas recent research in bees and ants has focused nearly exclusively on the polarization compass, two other compass systems--the sun compass and the wind (anemo) compass--as well as the mutual interactions of all these compass systems have received little attention. In this study, we show that of the two visual compass systems, it is only the polarization compass that invariably outcompetes the wind compass, while the sun compass does so only under certain conditions. If the ants are experimentally deprived of their polarization compass system, but have access simultaneously to both their sun compass and their wind compass, they steer intermediate courses. The intermediate courses shift the more towards the wind compass course, the higher the elevation of the sun is in the sky.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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