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Data for research article "Innate visual attraction in wood ants is a hardwired behaviour seen across different motivational and ecological contexts"

posted on 26.03.2021, 12:08 by Cornelia Buehlmann, Paul Graham

Data for paper published on bioRxiv Feb 2021 (Pre-print)

Data contains paths from individually recorded ants during the experiments (saved as Matlab files). You will need access to the MATLAB environment to view these files.

For details please see the README.txt file and view the experiment methods in the paper.


Ants are expert navigators combing innate and learnt navigational strategies. Whereas we know that the ants’ feeding state segregates visual navigational memories in ants navigating along a learnt route, it is an open question if the motivational state also affects the ants’ innate visual preferences. Wood ant foragers show an innate attraction to conspicuous visual cues. These foragers inhabit cluttered woodland habitat and feed on honeydew from aphids on trees, hence, the attraction to ‘tree-like’ objects might be an ecologically relevant behaviour that is tailored to the wood ants’ foraging ecology. Foragers from other ant species with different foraging ecologies show very different innate attractions. We investigated here the innate visual response of wood ant foragers with different motivational states, i.e. unfed or fed, as well as males that have a short life span and show no foraging activity. Our results show that ants from all three groups orient towards a prominent visual cue, i.e. the wood ants’ innate visual attraction is not context dependent, but a hardwired behaviour seen across different motivational and ecological contexts.


Visual navigation in ants: from visual ecology to brain

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

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