The effect of food preference, landmarks, and maze shift on maze-solving time in desert ants

In: Behaviour
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  • 1 School of Zoology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, 69978 Tel Aviv, Israel
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We studied how food type and available landmarks affect spatial learning in the ant Cataglyphis niger while searching for food in a maze. We expected the ants to solve the maze faster with consecutive runs, when the preferred food type is offered, and in the presence of landmarks. Ants should also solve the maze more slowly following a mirror-route switch in the maze. As expected, maze-solving improved when searching for a preferred food type than a less preferred one, as determined in a separate food preference experiment. In contrast, adding landmarks to the maze had only little effect on maze-solving and the number of searching workers. Switching the route to a mirror-imaged route in the maze delayed maze-solving and required more workers to search for food. Our findings extend the knowledge on the ants’ learning abilities and demonstrate how foragers detect food faster when offered a high-ranking food item.

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