Landmarks and ant search strategies after interrupted tandem runs

The Journal of Experimental Biology
Norasmah BasariNigel R Franks


During a tandem run, a single leading ant recruits a single follower to an important resource such as a new nest. To examine this process, we used a motorized gantry, which has not previously been used in ant studies, to track tandem running ants accurately in a large arena and we compared their performance in the presence of different types of landmark. We interrupted tandem runs by taking away the leader and moved a large distant landmark behind the new nest just at the time of this separation. Our aim was to determine what information followers might have obtained from the incomplete tandem run they had followed, and how they behaved after the tandem run had been interrupted. Our results show that former followers search by using composite random strategies with elements of sub-diffusive and diffusive movements. Furthermore, when we provided more landmarks former followers searched for longer. However, when all landmarks were removed completely from the arena, the ants' search duration lasted up to four times longer. Hence, their search strategy changes in the presence or absence of landmarks. Even after extensive search of this kind, former followers headed back to their old nest but did not return along the path of the tan...Continue Reading


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