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Title: Tandem running in ants : communication and navigation
Author: Basari , Norasmah binti
ISNI:       0000 0004 5914 528X
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2014
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Social Hymenopterans such as bees, wasps and ants have developed sophisticated and effective communication among nestmates. Their remarkable ability to perform certain task such as in navigation suggests that these animals are able to learn and process the information they have gathered. Here, I test for such abilities in tandem running recruitment whereby an informed ant leads a na'ive ant to a resource and tactile cues are used by the follower ants to prompt the leader ants to move forward after a pause. The experiments presented here show that in addition to tactile signals being used, chemical signals are also being laid on the substrate by the leader ants mainly to maintain the bond between the tandem run pairs until they reach the goal. Both leader and follower ants learn visual cues during tandem running. The ants learn landmarks as well as the position of parallel wall edges and use this information to guide them in navigation to and from their nest. Furthermore, this information is updated on subsequent journeys making experienced ants better at navigation than newly recruited ants. Finally, I show that when communication between tandem running ants is manipulated experimentally by a dummy leader, many followers are not able to return to their old nest after having been led much quicker than the normal speed of tandem running. I hypothesize that this is due to the lack of learning opportunities and information gathering by the follower ants during such experimentally manipulated tandem running. Overall, my results strongly suggest that the navigational strategies of tandem running ants involve cognitive abilities. Ants, despite having small brains, are able to learn and process the information they gather to help them navigate efficiently in unpredictable environmental conditions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available