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  • 1. Dacke, Marie
    et al.
    Bell, Adrian T. A.
    Foster, James J.
    Baird, Emily J.
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
    Strube-Bloss, Martin F.
    Byrne, Marcus J.
    el Jundi, Basil
    Multimodal cue integration in the dung beetle compass2019In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, ISSN 0027-8424, E-ISSN 1091-6490, Vol. 116, no 28, p. 14248-14253Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    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.

  • 2. el Jundi, Basil
    et al.
    Baird, Emily
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
    Byrne, Marcus J.
    Dacke, Marie
    The brain behind straight-line orientation in dung beetles2019In: Journal of Experimental Biology, ISSN 0022-0949, E-ISSN 1477-9145, Vol. 222, article id jeb192450Article, review/survey (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    For many insects, celestial compass cues play an important role in keeping track of their directional headings. One well-investigated group of celestial orientating insects are the African ball-rolling dung beetles. After finding a dung pile, these insects detach a piece, form it into a ball and roll it away along a straight path while facing backwards. A brain region, termed the central complex, acts as an internal compass that constantly updates the ball-rolling dung beetle about its heading. In this review, we give insights into the compass network behind straight-line orientation in dung beetles and place it in the context of the orientation mechanisms and neural networks of other insects. We find that the neuronal network behind straight-line orientation in dung beetles has strong similarities to the ones described in path-integrating and migrating insects, with the central complex being the key control point for this behavior. We conclude that, despite substantial differences in behavior and navigational challenges, dung beetles encode compass information in a similar way to other insects.

  • 3. Lecoeur, Julien
    et al.
    Dacke, Marie
    Floreano, Dario
    Baird, Emily
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Lund University, Sweden.
    The role of optic flow pooling in insect flight control in cluttered environments2019In: Scientific Reports, ISSN 2045-2322, E-ISSN 2045-2322, Vol. 9, article id 7707Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Flight through cluttered environments, such as forests, poses great challenges for animals and machines alike because even small changes in flight path may lead to collisions with nearby obstacles. When flying along narrow corridors, insects use the magnitude of visual motion experienced in each eye to control their position, height, and speed but it is unclear how this strategy would work when the environment contains nearby obstacles against a distant background. To minimise the risk of collisions, we would expect animals to rely on the visual motion generated by only the nearby obstacles but is this the case? To answer this, we combine behavioural experiments with numerical simulations and provide the first evidence that bumblebees extract the maximum rate of image motion in the frontal visual field to steer away from obstacles. Our findings also suggest that bumblebees use different optic flow calculations to control lateral position, speed, and height.

  • 4. Taylor, Gavin J.
    et al.
    Tichit, Pierre
    Schmidt, Marie D.
    Bodey, Andrew J.
    Rau, Christoph
    Baird, Emily
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Lund University, Sweden.
    Bumblebee visual allometry results in locally improved resolution and globally improved sensitivity2019In: eLIFE, E-ISSN 2050-084X, Vol. 8, article id e0613Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The quality of visual information that is available to an animal is limited by the size of its eyes. Differences in eye size can be observed even between closely related individuals, yet we understand little about how this affects vision. Insects are good models for exploring the effects of size on visual systems because many insect species exhibit size polymorphism. Previous work has been limited by difficulties in determining the 3D structure of eyes. We have developed a novel method based on x-ray microtomography to measure the 3D structure of insect eyes and to calculate predictions of their visual capabilities. We used our method to investigate visual allometry in the bumblebee Bombus terrestris and found that size affects specific aspects of vision, including binocular overlap, optical sensitivity, and dorsofrontal visual resolution. This reveals that differential scaling between eye areas provides flexibility that improves the visual capabilities of larger bumblebees.

  • 5. Wilby, David
    et al.
    Aarts, Tobio
    Tichit, Pierre
    Bodey, Andrew
    Rau, Christoph
    Taylor, Gavin
    Baird, Emily
    Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Lund University, Sweden.
    Using micro-CT techniques to explore the role of sex and hair in the functional morphology of bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) ocelli2019In: Vision Research, ISSN 0042-6989, E-ISSN 1878-5646, Vol. 158, p. 100-108Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Many insects have triplets of camera type eyes, called ocelli, whose function remains unclear for most species. Here, we investigate the ocelli of the bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, using reconstructed 3D data from X-ray microtomography scans combined with computational ray-tracing simulations. This method enables us, not only to predict the visual fields of the ocelli, but to explore for the first time the effect that hair has on them as well as the difference between worker female and male ocelli. We find that bumblebee ocellar fields of view are directed forward and dorsally, incorporating the horizon as well as the sky. There is substantial binocular overlap between the median and lateral ocelli, but no overlap between the two lateral ocelli. Hairs in both workers and males occlude the ocellar field of view, mostly laterally in the worker median ocellus and dorsally in the lateral ocelli. There is little to no sexual dimorphism in the ocellar visual field, suggesting that in B. terrestris they confer no advantage to mating strategies. We compare our results with published observations for the visual fields of compound eyes in the same species as well as with the ocellar vision of other bee and insect species.

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