Document Detail


What counts for ants? How return behaviour and food search of Cataglyphis ants are modified by variations in food quantity and experience.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  22915712     Owner:  NLM     Status:  In-Data-Review    
Abstract/OtherAbstract:
When finding more food than one is able to carry home, should one come back to the site to exploit it further? This question is crucial for central place foragers that provide for a home place with brood or nest mates. The benefit of returning has to be weighed against the chance of finding food elsewhere and the resources available. Desert ants Cataglyphis fortis are well-studied examples when it comes to navigating back and forth between their nest and a foraging area, due to their primary reliance on path integration in the open and featureless desert habitat. The ants use path integration not only for a safe return from their foraging trips but also for future returns to plentiful feeding sites. The direction from the nest that has previously yielded food items is preferred for future foraging trips, a phenomenon termed sector fidelity. What prompts the ants to return to a particular site, and how faithfully they search for that place, has not been well studied. We examine the evaluation of food sources in channel experiments by varying both the number of food items in a feeder and the number of visits to the feeder before testing search distances of foragers returning to the feeding site. Ants exhibited more focused searches for plentiful food sources than for sources with only few food items upon their first return visit. After several successful visits, the ants always searched thoroughly for the food source, independent of the amount of food offered. Thus, desert ants consider both food abundance and reliability of food encounter, with corroborative learning of reliability gradually overriding the initial preference for plentiful feeders. The density of food items appears to be used by the ants as a proxy for food abundance. On the level of our analysis, the searches performed in the experimental channels are indistinguishable from those performed in the open desert terrain. The present results not only demonstrate how otherwise well-studied desert ants assess yield and experience with reliability of food sources, but also establish a model system for future study of how itemised food sources are exploited.
Authors:
Siegfried Bolek; Matthias Wittlinger; Harald Wolf
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Journal of experimental biology     Volume:  215     ISSN:  1477-9145     ISO Abbreviation:  J. Exp. Biol.     Publication Date:  2012 Sep 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-08-23     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0243705     Medline TA:  J Exp Biol     Country:  England    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  3218-22     Citation Subset:  IM    
Affiliation:
Institute of Neurobiology, University of Ulm, Ulm D-89069, Germany.
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