Desert ants have adapted to a life in a barren environment which only provides very few landmarks for orientation. Apart from visual cues and odors the ants use the polarized sunlight as a compass and count their steps in order to return safely to their home after searching for food.
Cataglyphis noda ants approaching their nest entrance − a small hole in the ground of an experimental tube. Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology/Badeke
In experiments with ants of the genus Cataglyphis in their natural habitats in Tunisia and Turkey, behavioral scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, have now discovered that ants can also use magnetic and vibrational landmarks in order to find their way back to their nest − a small hole in the desert ground.In addition, carbon dioxide produced by their nestmates’ breathing also helps homing ants to pinpoint their nest entrance. Hence, the ants’ navigational skills prove enormously adaptable to their inhospitable environment.
Dr. Jan-Wolfhard Kellmann | Max-Planck-Institut
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