Data for research article 'Multimodal influences on learning walks in desert ants (Cataglyphis fortis)'

Data for paper published in the Journal of Comparative Physiology A (published June 2020).

Data contains paths from recorded ants during the experiments. Files can be opened with TextEdit (on a Macintosh) or WordPad (Windows).

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


Ants are excellent navigators using multimodal information for navigation. To accurately localise the nest at the end of a foraging journey, visual cues, wind direction and also olfactory cues need to be learnt. Learning walks are performed at the start of an ant’s foraging career or when the appearance of the nest surrounding has changed. We investigated here whether the structure of such learning walks in the desert ant Cataglyphis fortis takes into account wind direction in conjunction with the learning of new visual information. Ants learnt to travel back and forth between their nest and a feeder, and we then introduced a black cylinder near their nest to induce learning walks in regular foragers. By doing this across days with different wind directions, we were able to probe how ants balance different sensory modalities. We found that (1) the ants’ outwards headings are influenced by the wind direction with their routes deflected such that they will arrive downwind of their target, (2) a novel object along the route induces learning walks in experienced ants and (3) the structure of learning walks is shaped by the wind direction rather than the position of the visual cue.