Ants Can Learn Vibrational And Magnetic Landmarks

March 9, 2012

Ants are equipped with a number of sophisticated navigation tools, including the ability to both learn and use vibrational and magnetic landmarks, as reported Mar. 7 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

Cornelia Buehlmann, led by Bill Hansson and Markus Knaden of the Max Planck Institute in Germany, trained desert ants with magnetic and vibrational landmarks relative to their nest. Then they tested the ants and showed that the training did in fact help them find their nest. Importantly, they also found that the ants had no innate preference for the landmarks, indicating that the behavior was learned.

Whether ants use these types of cues for navigation in the wild remains unknown, the authors write, but their results highlight the flexibility of the ants’ navigation system.

Citation: Buehlmann C, Hansson BS, Knaden M (2012) Desert Ants Learn Vibration and Magnetic Landmarks. PLoS ONE 7(3): e33117. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033117

Financial Disclosure: This study was supported financially by the Max Planck Society. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interest Statement: This study was supported financially by the Max Planck Society. This does not alter the authors’ adherence to all the PLoS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

Image Caption: This is a channel with an ant. Credit: Elisa Badeke Knaden: Sonia Bisch-Knaden

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Source: Public Library of Science

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