Ant foraging on complex trails: route learning and the role of trail pheromones in Lasius niger.

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State: Public
Version: author
Serval ID
serval:BIB_523D60B32AFD
Type
Article: article from journal or magazin.
Collection
Publications
Title
Ant foraging on complex trails: route learning and the role of trail pheromones in Lasius niger.
Journal
Journal of Experimental Biology
Author(s)
Czaczkes T.J., Grüter C., Ellis L., Wood E., Ratnieks F.L.
ISSN
1477-9145 (Electronic)
ISSN-L
0022-0949
Publication state
Published
Issued date
2013
Peer-reviewed
Oui
Volume
216
Number
Pt 2
Pages
188-197
Language
english
Abstract
Ants are central place foragers and use multiple information sources to navigate between the nest and feeding sites. Individual ants rapidly learn a route, and often prioritize memory over pheromone trails when tested on a simple trail with a single bifurcation. However, in nature, ants often forage at locations that are reached via more complex routes with multiple trail bifurcations. Such routes may be more difficult to learn, and thus ants would benefit from additional information. We hypothesized that trail pheromones play a more significant role in ant foraging on complex routes, either by assisting in navigation or route learning or both. We studied Lasius niger workers foraging on a doubly bifurcating trail with four end points. Route learning was slower and errors greater on alternating (e.g. left-right) versus repeating routes (e.g. left-left), with error rates of 32 and 3%, respectively. However, errors on alternating routes decreased by 30% when trail pheromone was present. Trail pheromones also aid route learning, leading to reduced errors in subsequent journeys without pheromone. If an experienced forager makes an error when returning to a food source, it reacts by increasing pheromone deposition on the return journey. In addition, high levels of trail pheromone suppress further pheromone deposition. This negative feedback mechanism may act to conserve pheromone or to regulate recruitment. Taken together, these results demonstrate further complexity and sophistication in the foraging system of ant colonies, especially in the role of trail pheromones and their relationship with learning and the use of private information (memory) in a complex environment.
Keywords
social information, private information, route memory, navigation, negative feedback
Pubmed
Web of science
Open Access
Yes
Create date
21/02/2014 11:16
Last modification date
20/08/2019 15:07
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