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Vector navigation in walking bumblebees

Patel, Rickesh N. LU orcid ; Kempenaers, Julian LU and Heinze, Stanley LU (2022) In Current Biology 32(13). p.4-2883
Abstract

Path integration is a computational strategy that allows an animal to maintain an internal estimate of its position relative to a point of origin. Many species use path integration to navigate back to specific locations, typically their homes, after lengthy and convoluted excursions. Hymenopteran insects are impressive path integrators, directly returning to their hives after hundreds of meters of outward travel. Recent neurobiological insights have established hypotheses for how path integration vectors could be encoded in the brains of bees, but clear ways to test these hypotheses in the laboratory are currently unavailable. Here, we report that the bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, uses path integration while walking over short distances... (More)

Path integration is a computational strategy that allows an animal to maintain an internal estimate of its position relative to a point of origin. Many species use path integration to navigate back to specific locations, typically their homes, after lengthy and convoluted excursions. Hymenopteran insects are impressive path integrators, directly returning to their hives after hundreds of meters of outward travel. Recent neurobiological insights have established hypotheses for how path integration vectors could be encoded in the brains of bees, but clear ways to test these hypotheses in the laboratory are currently unavailable. Here, we report that the bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, uses path integration while walking over short distances in an indoor arena. They estimate accurate vector distances after displacement and orient by artificial celestial cues. Walking bumblebees also exhibited systematic search patterns when home vectors failed to lead them accurately back to the nest, closely resembling searches performed by other species under natural conditions. We thus provide a robust experimental system to test navigation behavior in the laboratory that reflects most aspects of natural path integration. Importantly, we established this assay in an animal that is both readily available and resilient to invasive manipulations, as we demonstrate with the retention of the homing behavior post-anesthesia and surgery. In the future, our behavioral assay can therefore be combined with current electrophysiological techniques, opening a path toward directly probing the neural basis of the sophisticated vector navigation abilities of bees.

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
; and
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
bee, Bombus terrestris, bumblebee, celestial polarization patterns, homing, navigation, orientation, path integration, search behavior, sun compass
in
Current Biology
volume
32
issue
13
pages
4 - 2883
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • pmid:35640624
  • scopus:85133633533
ISSN
0960-9822
DOI
10.1016/j.cub.2022.05.010
language
English
LU publication?
yes
additional info
Publisher Copyright: © 2022 The Author(s)
id
bb4c915c-7050-4fd2-ab58-2b44b97995ff
date added to LUP
2022-09-02 09:37:50
date last changed
2022-12-01 00:47:01
@article{bb4c915c-7050-4fd2-ab58-2b44b97995ff,
  abstract     = {{<p>Path integration is a computational strategy that allows an animal to maintain an internal estimate of its position relative to a point of origin. Many species use path integration to navigate back to specific locations, typically their homes, after lengthy and convoluted excursions. Hymenopteran insects are impressive path integrators, directly returning to their hives after hundreds of meters of outward travel. Recent neurobiological insights have established hypotheses for how path integration vectors could be encoded in the brains of bees, but clear ways to test these hypotheses in the laboratory are currently unavailable. Here, we report that the bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, uses path integration while walking over short distances in an indoor arena. They estimate accurate vector distances after displacement and orient by artificial celestial cues. Walking bumblebees also exhibited systematic search patterns when home vectors failed to lead them accurately back to the nest, closely resembling searches performed by other species under natural conditions. We thus provide a robust experimental system to test navigation behavior in the laboratory that reflects most aspects of natural path integration. Importantly, we established this assay in an animal that is both readily available and resilient to invasive manipulations, as we demonstrate with the retention of the homing behavior post-anesthesia and surgery. In the future, our behavioral assay can therefore be combined with current electrophysiological techniques, opening a path toward directly probing the neural basis of the sophisticated vector navigation abilities of bees.</p>}},
  author       = {{Patel, Rickesh N. and Kempenaers, Julian and Heinze, Stanley}},
  issn         = {{0960-9822}},
  keywords     = {{bee; Bombus terrestris; bumblebee; celestial polarization patterns; homing; navigation; orientation; path integration; search behavior; sun compass}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  month        = {{07}},
  number       = {{13}},
  pages        = {{4--2883}},
  publisher    = {{Elsevier}},
  series       = {{Current Biology}},
  title        = {{Vector navigation in walking bumblebees}},
  url          = {{http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2022.05.010}},
  doi          = {{10.1016/j.cub.2022.05.010}},
  volume       = {{32}},
  year         = {{2022}},
}