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The dung beetle dance: an orientation behaviour?

Baird, Emily LU ; Byrne, Marcus J; Smolka, Jochen LU ; Warrant, Eric LU and Dacke, Marie LU (2012) In PLoS ONE 7(1).
Abstract
An interesting feature of dung beetle behaviour is that once they have formed a piece of dung into a ball, they roll it along a straight path away from the dung pile. This straight-line orientation ensures that the beetles depart along the most direct route, guaranteeing that they will not return to the intense competition (from other beetles) that occurs near the dung pile. Before rolling a new ball away from the dung pile, dung beetles perform a characteristic "dance," in which they climb on top of the ball and rotate about their vertical axis. This dance behaviour can also be observed during the beetles' straight-line departure from the dung pile. The aim of the present study is to investigate the purpose of the dung beetle dance. To do... (More)
An interesting feature of dung beetle behaviour is that once they have formed a piece of dung into a ball, they roll it along a straight path away from the dung pile. This straight-line orientation ensures that the beetles depart along the most direct route, guaranteeing that they will not return to the intense competition (from other beetles) that occurs near the dung pile. Before rolling a new ball away from the dung pile, dung beetles perform a characteristic "dance," in which they climb on top of the ball and rotate about their vertical axis. This dance behaviour can also be observed during the beetles' straight-line departure from the dung pile. The aim of the present study is to investigate the purpose of the dung beetle dance. To do this, we explored the circumstances that elicit dance behaviour in the diurnal ball-rolling dung beetle, Scarabaeus (Kheper) nigroaeneus. Our results reveal that dances are elicited when the beetles lose control of their ball or lose contact with it altogether. We also find that dances can be elicited by both active and passive deviations of course and by changes in visual cues alone. In light of these results, we hypothesise that the dung beetle dance is a visually mediated mechanism that facilitates straight-line orientation in ball-rolling dung beetles by allowing them to 1) establish a roll bearing and 2) return to this chosen bearing after experiencing a disturbance to the roll path. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
PLoS ONE
volume
7
issue
1
publisher
Public Library of Science
external identifiers
  • wos:000299771900050
  • pmid:22279572
  • scopus:84855920375
ISSN
1932-6203
DOI
10.1371/journal.pone.0030211
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
49fd219b-230c-40ff-a017-d4d9e96b6685 (old id 2335980)
alternative location
http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0030211
date added to LUP
2012-02-10 12:22:21
date last changed
2017-10-22 04:14:39
@article{49fd219b-230c-40ff-a017-d4d9e96b6685,
  abstract     = {An interesting feature of dung beetle behaviour is that once they have formed a piece of dung into a ball, they roll it along a straight path away from the dung pile. This straight-line orientation ensures that the beetles depart along the most direct route, guaranteeing that they will not return to the intense competition (from other beetles) that occurs near the dung pile. Before rolling a new ball away from the dung pile, dung beetles perform a characteristic "dance," in which they climb on top of the ball and rotate about their vertical axis. This dance behaviour can also be observed during the beetles' straight-line departure from the dung pile. The aim of the present study is to investigate the purpose of the dung beetle dance. To do this, we explored the circumstances that elicit dance behaviour in the diurnal ball-rolling dung beetle, Scarabaeus (Kheper) nigroaeneus. Our results reveal that dances are elicited when the beetles lose control of their ball or lose contact with it altogether. We also find that dances can be elicited by both active and passive deviations of course and by changes in visual cues alone. In light of these results, we hypothesise that the dung beetle dance is a visually mediated mechanism that facilitates straight-line orientation in ball-rolling dung beetles by allowing them to 1) establish a roll bearing and 2) return to this chosen bearing after experiencing a disturbance to the roll path.},
  articleno    = {e30211},
  author       = {Baird, Emily and Byrne, Marcus J and Smolka, Jochen and Warrant, Eric and Dacke, Marie},
  issn         = {1932-6203},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  publisher    = {Public Library of Science},
  series       = {PLoS ONE},
  title        = {The dung beetle dance: an orientation behaviour?},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0030211},
  volume       = {7},
  year         = {2012},
}