Archive for December, 2005

Saharan ants

It happened during one of those days when I had managed to miss school to watch India-Pakistan cricket match. I changed channels during the drink’s break to watch National Geographic. What I saw was stunning. One crazy guy, in the middle of Sahara trying to figure out how one single ant walks around. I learnt that he had been doing this in the middle of the desert for the past 2 decades!! I was completely overwhelmed and zapped, to even think that someone can get a job to watch an ant in Sahara. Now nearly after 15 years since I watched that screening on NGC, I must say that it was truly a privilege for me to make it Sahara to study these ants, one of the world’s thermophilic ants, Cataglyphis.

Cheng K, Narendra A and Wehner R. Behavioural ecology of odometric memories in desert ants: acquisition, retention and integration. Behavioral Ecology (doi:10.1093/beheco/arj017).

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Slalom racer ant

Ants with the largest eyes, yes largest eyes, lives in the tropical rain forests of French Guina. These ants, called as Gigantiops destructor, embark on their foraging behaviour individually, without making trails. A recent study to determine the unique navigational skills of this ant was conducted by a team of researchers at CNRS, France. They confined ants in a dome like structure and trained them to navigate to different locations and recorded individual ant’s path. On their way out of the nest, ants navigate around the conspicuous landmark closest to its nest and on their way in they navigate around a landmark closest to the food source. What’s fascinating is that en route to a goal, individual ants established idiosyncratic routes by slaloming around different landmarks. Does the slalom car racer come to mind?

From: Macquart et al. 2005. J Comp Physiol A: DOI 10.1007/s00359-005-0064-7.

I was fortunate to have been at this paper’s presentation at ICE 2005 in Budapest.

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