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Nocturnal insects use optic flow for flight control.

Baird, Emily LU ; Kreiss, Eva LU ; Wcislo, William; Warrant, Eric LU and Dacke, Marie LU (2011) In Biology Letters 7. p.499-501
Abstract
To avoid collisions when navigating through cluttered environments, flying insects must control their flight so that their sensory systems have time to detect obstacles and avoid them. To do this, day-active insects rely primarily on the pattern of apparent motion generated on the retina during flight (optic flow). However, many flying insects are active at night, when obtaining reliable visual information for flight control presents much more of a challenge. To assess whether nocturnal flying insects also rely on optic flow cues to control flight in dim light, we recorded flights of the nocturnal neotropical sweat bee, Megalopta genalis, flying along an experimental tunnel when: (i) the visual texture on each wall generated strong... (More)
To avoid collisions when navigating through cluttered environments, flying insects must control their flight so that their sensory systems have time to detect obstacles and avoid them. To do this, day-active insects rely primarily on the pattern of apparent motion generated on the retina during flight (optic flow). However, many flying insects are active at night, when obtaining reliable visual information for flight control presents much more of a challenge. To assess whether nocturnal flying insects also rely on optic flow cues to control flight in dim light, we recorded flights of the nocturnal neotropical sweat bee, Megalopta genalis, flying along an experimental tunnel when: (i) the visual texture on each wall generated strong horizontal (front-to-back) optic flow cues, (ii) the texture on only one wall generated these cues, and (iii) horizontal optic flow cues were removed from both walls. We find that Megalopta increase their groundspeed when horizontal motion cues in the tunnel are reduced (conditions (ii) and (iii)). However, differences in the amount of horizontal optic flow on each wall of the tunnel (condition (ii)) do not affect the centred position of the bee within the flight tunnel. To better understand the behavioural response of Megalopta, we repeated the experiments on day-active bumble-bees (Bombus terrestris). Overall, our findings demonstrate that despite the limitations imposed by dim light, Megalopta-like their day-active relatives-rely heavily on vision to control flight, but that they use visual cues in a different manner from diurnal insects. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
flight, optic flow, insect vision, Megalopta, bumble-bee
in
Biology Letters
volume
7
pages
499 - 501
publisher
Royal Society
external identifiers
  • wos:000292639100007
  • scopus:80051706188
ISSN
1744-9561
DOI
10.1098/rsbl.2010.1205
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
a56bf028-6fc6-4e20-9405-cb44cf00d3a8 (old id 1832009)
date added to LUP
2011-03-04 12:40:14
date last changed
2017-11-05 03:21:34
@article{a56bf028-6fc6-4e20-9405-cb44cf00d3a8,
  abstract     = {To avoid collisions when navigating through cluttered environments, flying insects must control their flight so that their sensory systems have time to detect obstacles and avoid them. To do this, day-active insects rely primarily on the pattern of apparent motion generated on the retina during flight (optic flow). However, many flying insects are active at night, when obtaining reliable visual information for flight control presents much more of a challenge. To assess whether nocturnal flying insects also rely on optic flow cues to control flight in dim light, we recorded flights of the nocturnal neotropical sweat bee, Megalopta genalis, flying along an experimental tunnel when: (i) the visual texture on each wall generated strong horizontal (front-to-back) optic flow cues, (ii) the texture on only one wall generated these cues, and (iii) horizontal optic flow cues were removed from both walls. We find that Megalopta increase their groundspeed when horizontal motion cues in the tunnel are reduced (conditions (ii) and (iii)). However, differences in the amount of horizontal optic flow on each wall of the tunnel (condition (ii)) do not affect the centred position of the bee within the flight tunnel. To better understand the behavioural response of Megalopta, we repeated the experiments on day-active bumble-bees (Bombus terrestris). Overall, our findings demonstrate that despite the limitations imposed by dim light, Megalopta-like their day-active relatives-rely heavily on vision to control flight, but that they use visual cues in a different manner from diurnal insects.},
  author       = {Baird, Emily and Kreiss, Eva and Wcislo, William and Warrant, Eric and Dacke, Marie},
  issn         = {1744-9561},
  keyword      = {flight,optic flow,insect vision,Megalopta,bumble-bee},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {499--501},
  publisher    = {Royal Society},
  series       = {Biology Letters},
  title        = {Nocturnal insects use optic flow for flight control.},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2010.1205},
  volume       = {7},
  year         = {2011},
}