Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Matabele ants: Travelling faster with detours

22.05.2018

Ants do not always take the shortest route when they are in a hurry. Their navigational system occasionally makes them take detours to speed up their journey.

Termites are the African Matabele ants' (Megaponera analis) favourite dish. Proceeding in long files of 200 to 600, they raid termites at their foraging sites and haul the prey back to their nest where they are ultimately eaten.


Matabele ants on a raid: They take detours through open terrain to speed up their journey.

(Photo: Erik Frank)


Matabele ants carrying a termite prey back to the nest.

(Photo: Erik Frank)

Before starting their raids, the ants send out scouts to look for the termites' foraging sites. Once they have spotted them, the scout ants return to the nest to mobilize their comrades. On their way back to the nest, the scouts show astonishing navigational abilities: They take the quickest route rather than the shortest.

Travelling faster in open country

If the direct way back passes through an area densely grown with grass, for example, the scouts prefer taking detours through open terrain which enables them to double their pace – and this is worth it: They travel much faster although they are not taking the shortest route. This reduces their time back to the nest by 35 percent on average as Erik T. Frank, Philipp Hönle, and Karl Eduard Linsenmair from Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg (JMU) in Bavaria, Germany, discovered. The biologists' results have been published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Individual ants make decisions

"Other ant species are known to rely on various navigational aids to determine the shortest way back to the nest from a foraging site," Erik Franks says. The navigational skills of the Matabele ants seem to be even more complex, a finding the researchers want to explore in greater detail now.

Moreover, the JMU scientists were surprised that the decision which way to take is made by individual ants and not collectively. "We have thus provided the first proof of time optimized path integration by individuals in the ant kingdom," says Frank who is currently conducting postdoc research at the University of Lausanne.

Publication

Time optimized path-choice in the termite hunting ant Megaponera analis. Erik T. Frank, Philipp O. Hönle, K. Eduard Linsenmair. Journal of Experimental Biology 2018, 10 May. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.174854

Contact

Dr. Erik T. Frank, University of Lausanne, Department of Ecology and Evolution, T +41 21 692 4176, erik.frank@unil.ch

Weitere Informationen:

http://jeb.biologists.org/content/early/2018/05/09/jeb.174854 Link to the paper

Robert Emmerich | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Small but ver­sat­ile; key play­ers in the mar­ine ni­tro­gen cycle can util­ize cy­anate and urea
10.12.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Marine Mikrobiologie

nachricht Carnegie Mellon researchers probe hydrogen bonds using new technique
10.12.2018 | Carnegie Mellon University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

Im Focus: The force of the vacuum

Scientists from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg have shown through theoretical calculations and computer simulations that the force between electrons and lattice distortions in an atomically thin two-dimensional superconductor can be controlled with virtual photons. This could aid the development of new superconductors for energy-saving devices and many other technical applications.

The vacuum is not empty. It may sound like magic to laypeople but it has occupied physicists since the birth of quantum mechanics.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Small but ver­sat­ile; key play­ers in the mar­ine ni­tro­gen cycle can util­ize cy­anate and urea

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

New method gives microscope a boost in resolution

10.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Carnegie Mellon researchers probe hydrogen bonds using new technique

10.12.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>