Elisabeth Adam

   Department of Evolutionary Neuroethology
   Odor-guided behavior
 Phone:+49 (0)3641 57 1412Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology
 Fax:+49 (0)3641 57 1402Hans-Knöll-Straße 8
  emailD-07745 Jena

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PhD Thesis

started in Jan 2018
Desert ant navigation based on olfactory cues
Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Biologisch Pharmazeutische Fakultät
First Supervisor: Prof. Dr. B.S. Hansson
Co-Supervisor(s): Dr. M. Knaden, Dr. S. Sachse, Prof. Dr. H. Schielzeth

The desert ant Cataglyphis fortis inhabits the arid environment of the Tunisian salt pans. It leaves its inconspicuous nest during the day in search of dead arthropods. Unlike ant species from temperate regions, C. fortis does not forage cooperatively, but performs individual foraging runs. During these runs, an ant can cover a distance of more than one kilometer. Still, it is able to return home and pinpoint its nest with high precision using path integration as well as visual and or olfactory cues. This is a vital skill as not returning in due time or even entering the wrong nest will very likely result in the death of the ant.

During my PhD, I want to investigate how desert ants know that they have arrived at their respective nest. To answer this question, I will conduct behavioral experiments in the field (Sebkhet Bou Jemel, Tunisia) as well as establish a desert ant colony at the lab. To analyze which brain regions are involved in coding nest-specific cues, I will employ immunohistochemical techniques as well as calcium imaging. I hypothesize that higher-order insect brain regions such as the mushroom body (learning & memory), the lateral horn (innate behavior) and/or the central complex (navigation) could be involved in the process of nest identification and localization.
last updated on 2018-07-04