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A dung beetle that path integrates without the use of landmarks

Dacke, Marie LU ; el Jundi, Basil LU ; Gagnon, Yakir LU ; Yilmaz, Ayse LU ; Byrne, Marcus and Baird, Emily LU (2020) In Animal Cognition 23(6). p.1161-1175
Abstract

Unusual amongst dung beetles, Scarabaeus galenus digs a burrow that it provisions by making repeated trips to a nearby dung pile. Even more remarkable is that these beetles return home moving backwards, with a pellet of dung between their hind legs. Here, we explore the strategy that S. galenus uses to find its way home. We find that, like many other insects, they use path integration to calculate the direction and distance to their home. If they fail to locate their burrow, the beetles initiate a distinct looping search behaviour that starts with a characteristic sharp turn, we have called a ‘turning point’. When homing beetles are passively displaced or transferred to an unfamiliar environment, they initiate a search at a point very... (More)

Unusual amongst dung beetles, Scarabaeus galenus digs a burrow that it provisions by making repeated trips to a nearby dung pile. Even more remarkable is that these beetles return home moving backwards, with a pellet of dung between their hind legs. Here, we explore the strategy that S. galenus uses to find its way home. We find that, like many other insects, they use path integration to calculate the direction and distance to their home. If they fail to locate their burrow, the beetles initiate a distinct looping search behaviour that starts with a characteristic sharp turn, we have called a ‘turning point’. When homing beetles are passively displaced or transferred to an unfamiliar environment, they initiate a search at a point very close to the location of their fictive burrow—that is, a spot at the same relative distance and direction from the pick-up point as the original burrow. Unlike other insects, S. galenus do not appear to supplement estimates of the burrow location with landmark information. Thus, S. galenus represents a rare case of a consistently backward-homing animal that does not use landmarks to augment its path integration strategy.

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author
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organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Dung beetle, Homing, Navigation, Path integration, Scarabaeus, Search
in
Animal Cognition
volume
23
issue
6
pages
15 pages
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • pmid:32902692
  • scopus:85090440502
ISSN
1435-9448
DOI
10.1007/s10071-020-01426-8
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
ccfb1980-7744-45e8-879a-29013ce4a755
date added to LUP
2020-10-02 15:09:57
date last changed
2021-06-16 05:13:13
@article{ccfb1980-7744-45e8-879a-29013ce4a755,
  abstract     = {<p>Unusual amongst dung beetles, Scarabaeus galenus digs a burrow that it provisions by making repeated trips to a nearby dung pile. Even more remarkable is that these beetles return home moving backwards, with a pellet of dung between their hind legs. Here, we explore the strategy that S. galenus uses to find its way home. We find that, like many other insects, they use path integration to calculate the direction and distance to their home. If they fail to locate their burrow, the beetles initiate a distinct looping search behaviour that starts with a characteristic sharp turn, we have called a ‘turning point’. When homing beetles are passively displaced or transferred to an unfamiliar environment, they initiate a search at a point very close to the location of their fictive burrow—that is, a spot at the same relative distance and direction from the pick-up point as the original burrow. Unlike other insects, S. galenus do not appear to supplement estimates of the burrow location with landmark information. Thus, S. galenus represents a rare case of a consistently backward-homing animal that does not use landmarks to augment its path integration strategy.</p>},
  author       = {Dacke, Marie and el Jundi, Basil and Gagnon, Yakir and Yilmaz, Ayse and Byrne, Marcus and Baird, Emily},
  issn         = {1435-9448},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {6},
  pages        = {1161--1175},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Animal Cognition},
  title        = {A dung beetle that path integrates without the use of landmarks},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10071-020-01426-8},
  doi          = {10.1007/s10071-020-01426-8},
  volume       = {23},
  year         = {2020},
}