Reorientation patterns in central-place foraging: Internal clocks and klinokinesis

Daniel Campos, Frederic Bartumeus, Vicenç Méndez, Xavier Espadaler

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13 Citations (Scopus)


We study central-place foraging patterns of Aphaenogaster senilis ants at a population level by video framing individual ant trajectories in a circular arena with a nest connected to its centre. The ants naturally leave and enter the nest and forage generating non-trivial movement patterns around the nest. Our data analysis indicated that the trajectories observed can be classified into two strategies: the risk-averse strategy, which involves wandering around the nest without departing far from it and the riskprone strategy, which involves long exploration paths with periodic returns to the central region, nearby the nest. We found that both risk-prone and risk-averse strategies exhibit qualitatively the same reorientation patterns, with the time between consecutive reorientations covering a wide range of scales, and fitting a stretched exponential function. Nevertheless, differences in the temporal scales and the time variability of such reorientation events differ, together with other aspects of motion, such as average speed and turns. Our results give experimental evidence that the internal mechanisms driving reorientations in ants tend to favour frequently long relocations, as theory predicts for efficient exploration in patchy landscapes, but ants engaged in central-place foraging can modulate such behaviour to control distances from the nest. Previous works on the species support the idea that risk-prone and risk-averse strategies may reflect actual differences between individuals age and experience; these factors (age and experience) should be then relevant in modulating the internal reorientation clocks. To support the validity of our findings, we develop a random-walk model combining stretched exponential reorientation clocks with klinokinesis that fits the time length and the travelled distance distributions of the observed trajectories. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20130859
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2014


  • Collective movement
  • Information foraging
  • Search strategies


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