Straight-line orientation in the woodland-living beetle Sisyphus fasciculatus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

To transport their balls of dung along a constant bearing, diurnal savannah-living dung beetles rely primarily on the sun for compass information. However, in more cluttered environments, such as woodlands, this solitary compass cue is frequently hidden from view by surrounding vegetation. In these types of habitats, insects can, instead, rely on surrounding landmarks, the canopy pattern, or wide-field celestial cues, such as polarised skylight, for directional information. Here, we investigate the compass orientation strategy behind straight-line orientation in the diurnal woodland-living beetle Sisyphus fasciculatus. We found that, when manipulating the direction of polarised skylight, Si. fasciculatus responded to this change with a similar change in bearing. However, when the apparent position of the sun was moved, the woodland-living beetle did not change its direction of travel. In contrast, the savannah-living beetle Scarabaeus lamarcki responded to the manipulation of the solar position with a corresponding change in bearing. These results suggest that the dominant compass cue used for straight-line orientation in dung beetles may be determined by the celestial cue that is most prominent in their preferred habitat.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • University of the Witwatersrand
  • Stockholm University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Behavioral Sciences Biology
  • Zoology

Keywords

  • Beetle, Compass, Orientation, Polarised light, Sun
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019 Apr 6
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes