Honeybee odometry: Performance in varying natural terrain

Tautz, Juergen, Zhang, Shaowu, Spaethe, Johannes, Brockmann, Axel, Si, Aung and Srinivasan, Mandyam (2004) Honeybee odometry: Performance in varying natural terrain. Plos Biology, 2 7: 915-923. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020211

Author Tautz, Juergen
Zhang, Shaowu
Spaethe, Johannes
Brockmann, Axel
Si, Aung
Srinivasan, Mandyam
Title Honeybee odometry: Performance in varying natural terrain
Journal name Plos Biology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1544-9173
Publication date 2004-07
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pbio.0020211
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 2
Issue 7
Start page 915
End page 923
Total pages 9
Place of publication San Francisco, Calif., U.S.A.
Publisher Public Library Science
Language eng
Subject 0699 Other Biological Sciences
Abstract Recent studies have shown that honeybees flying through short, narrow tunnels with visually textured walls perform waggle dances that indicate a much greater flight distance than that actually flown. These studies suggest that the bee's "odometer" is driven by the optic flow (image motion) that is experienced during flight. One might therefore expect that, when bees fly to a food source through a varying outdoor landscape, their waggle dances would depend upon the nature of the terrain experienced en route. We trained honeybees to visit feeders positioned along two routes, each 580 m long. One route was exclusively over land. The other was initially over land, then over water and, finally, again over land. Flight over water resulted in a significantly flatter slope of the waggle-duration versus distance regression, compared to flight over land. The mean visual contrast of the scenes was significantly greater over land than over water. The results reveal that, in outdoor flight, the honeybee's odometer does not run at a constant rate; rather, the rate depends upon the properties of the terrain. The bee's perception of distance flown is therefore not absolute, but scene-dependent. These findings raise important and interesting questions about how these animals navigate reliably.
Keyword Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Optic Flow
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
Queensland Brain Institute Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 45 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 57 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Fri, 25 Jan 2008, 16:18:29 EST