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The Neurobiology of Spatial Behaviour$
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K.J. Jeffery

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198515241

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198515241.001.0001

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Path integration in insects

Path integration in insects

(p.9) Chapter 1 Path integration in insects
The Neurobiology of Spatial Behaviour

Rüdiger Wehner

Mandyam V. Srinivasan

Oxford University Press

This chapter outlines what is known about path integration in insects. It begins by discussing how the insect's compass and odometer work as well as the manner in which their outputs are combined. It then returns to the path integration system in general and explores how central place foragers such as bees and ants make use of the results of the path integration process. It is evident that the path integration system offers vectors that guide the animal to nesting and feeding sites or from one waypoint to another, and empowers the animal with a framework for obtaining and using spatial knowledge about its environment. In solving these navigational problems in an ad hoc rather than ab initio way, the insect attains high-level tasks by context-dependent low-level means. It is also shown that insects use a variety of information sources, such as the direction of the sun or the polarization patterns and spectral gradients in the sky, to determine their heading.

Keywords:   path integration, insects, path integration system, compass, odometer, polarization patterns, spectral gradients, spatial knowledge, navigation

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