Advanced

Multimodal cue integration in the dung beetle compass

Dacke, Marie LU ; Bell, Adrian T.A. LU ; Foster, James J. LU ; Baird, Emily J. LU ; Strube-Bloss, Martin F.; Byrne, Marcus J. and El Jundi, Basil LU (2019) In Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 116(28). p.14248-14253
Abstract

South African ball-rolling dung beetles exhibit a unique orientation behavior to avoid competition for food: after forming a piece of dung into a ball, they efficiently escape with it from the dung pile along a straight-line path. To keep track of their heading, these animals use celestial cues, such as the sun, as an orientation reference. Here we show that wind can also be used as a guiding cue for the ball-rolling beetles. We demonstrate that this mechanosensory compass cue is only used when skylight cues are difficult to read, i.e., when the sun is close to the zenith. This raises the question of how the beetles combine multimodal orientation input to obtain a robust heading estimate. To study this, we performed behavioral... (More)

South African ball-rolling dung beetles exhibit a unique orientation behavior to avoid competition for food: after forming a piece of dung into a ball, they efficiently escape with it from the dung pile along a straight-line path. To keep track of their heading, these animals use celestial cues, such as the sun, as an orientation reference. Here we show that wind can also be used as a guiding cue for the ball-rolling beetles. We demonstrate that this mechanosensory compass cue is only used when skylight cues are difficult to read, i.e., when the sun is close to the zenith. This raises the question of how the beetles combine multimodal orientation input to obtain a robust heading estimate. To study this, we performed behavioral experiments in a tightly controlled indoor arena. This revealed that the beetles register directional information provided by the sun and the wind and can use them in a weighted manner. Moreover, the directional information can be transferred between these 2 sensory modalities, suggesting that they are combined in the spatial memory network in the beetle’s brain. This flexible use of compass cue preferences relative to the prevailing visual and mechanosensory scenery provides a simple, yet effective, mechanism for enabling precise compass orientation at any time of the day.

(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
Insect, Navigation, Sun, Vision, Wind
in
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
volume
116
issue
28
pages
6 pages
publisher
National Acad Sciences
external identifiers
  • scopus:85068570299
ISSN
0027-8424
DOI
10.1073/pnas.1904308116
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
6922373d-981c-41f0-ae44-373108bdd489
date added to LUP
2019-07-18 09:42:58
date last changed
2019-09-22 05:04:31
@article{6922373d-981c-41f0-ae44-373108bdd489,
  abstract     = {<p>South African ball-rolling dung beetles exhibit a unique orientation behavior to avoid competition for food: after forming a piece of dung into a ball, they efficiently escape with it from the dung pile along a straight-line path. To keep track of their heading, these animals use celestial cues, such as the sun, as an orientation reference. Here we show that wind can also be used as a guiding cue for the ball-rolling beetles. We demonstrate that this mechanosensory compass cue is only used when skylight cues are difficult to read, i.e., when the sun is close to the zenith. This raises the question of how the beetles combine multimodal orientation input to obtain a robust heading estimate. To study this, we performed behavioral experiments in a tightly controlled indoor arena. This revealed that the beetles register directional information provided by the sun and the wind and can use them in a weighted manner. Moreover, the directional information can be transferred between these 2 sensory modalities, suggesting that they are combined in the spatial memory network in the beetle’s brain. This flexible use of compass cue preferences relative to the prevailing visual and mechanosensory scenery provides a simple, yet effective, mechanism for enabling precise compass orientation at any time of the day.</p>},
  author       = {Dacke, Marie and Bell, Adrian T.A. and Foster, James J. and Baird, Emily J. and Strube-Bloss, Martin F. and Byrne, Marcus J. and El Jundi, Basil},
  issn         = {0027-8424},
  keyword      = {Insect,Navigation,Sun,Vision,Wind},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {07},
  number       = {28},
  pages        = {14248--14253},
  publisher    = {National Acad Sciences},
  series       = {Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America},
  title        = {Multimodal cue integration in the dung beetle compass},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1904308116},
  volume       = {116},
  year         = {2019},
}