• How to Design Experiments in Animal Behaviour: 5. How Do Ants Estimate the Distance Walked

      Articles in Resonance – Journal of Science Education

    • Series Article

      Raghavendra Gadagkar

      More Details Abstract Fulltext PDF

      In this article, I will describe experiments designed to understand how ants estimate the distance they have walked. They rival in their simplicity, the experiments described in my previous article, designed to understand how bees estimate the distance flown. Although ants can also use optic flow to estimate distance, in the absence of optic flow cues and of pheromone/chemical trails, as may sometimes be the case in the desert ants, \emph{Cataglyphis}, ants estimate the distance walked, not by the energy expended but, believe it or not, by `counting' (or integrating) the number of steps they have taken. This was proved by showing that ants on stilts (elongated legs) overshot the required distance to return home while ants on stumps (shortened legs) undershot the required distance.

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