Thermal radiation as a learned orientation cue in leaf-cutting ants (Atta vollenweideri)

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2007
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Ruchty, Markus
Casero-Montes, Z. A.
Roces, Flavio
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Journal of Insect Physiology. 2007, 53(5), pp. 478-487. ISSN 0022-1910. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2007.01.011
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We explored the ability of leaf-cutting ants (Atta vollenweideri) to learn the location of a food reward by using thermal information as an orientation cue. During training of single workers, the conditioned stimulus was a distant thermal source placed frontally, 15 mm away from a platform having a leaf fragment as reward. After training, single workers were confronted with the choice between two sides, one being coupled, in a pseudo-randomized design, with a thermal stimulus heated 5 °C above environmental temperature. After 10 learning trials, workers significantly chose the side with the thermal stimulus. This showed that workers can use thermal information for spatial orientation in the context of foraging, which may help them to locate, for instance, highly attractive sun-exposed leaves. Thermal radiation alone as orientation cue was sufficient to allow learning, since preclusion of thermal convection during training and test did not impair workers’ response. Shielding of both thorax and gaster from the thermal source did not weaken learning, suggesting the sole participation of head and antennae in temperature reception. A thermal stimulus heated 1 °C above environmental temperature could not be used as a learned orientation cue, even when foragers were allowed to directly contact the thermal source.

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ISO 690KLEINEIDAM, Christoph, Markus RUCHTY, Z. A. CASERO-MONTES, Flavio ROCES, 2007. Thermal radiation as a learned orientation cue in leaf-cutting ants (Atta vollenweideri). In: Journal of Insect Physiology. 2007, 53(5), pp. 478-487. ISSN 0022-1910. Available under: doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2007.01.011
BibTex
@article{Kleineidam2007-05Therm-16001,
  year={2007},
  doi={10.1016/j.jinsphys.2007.01.011},
  title={Thermal radiation as a learned orientation cue in leaf-cutting ants (Atta vollenweideri)},
  number={5},
  volume={53},
  issn={0022-1910},
  journal={Journal of Insect Physiology},
  pages={478--487},
  author={Kleineidam, Christoph and Ruchty, Markus and Casero-Montes, Z. A. and Roces, Flavio}
}
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