Dr. Matthias Wittlinger
Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg
Institute for Biology I (Zoology)
Phone: ++49 / 761 / 203 - 2667
Fax: ++49 / 761 / 203 – 2921
Research Interest (summary)
We aim to understand the mechanisms underlying spatial orientation and navigation in Insects. We focus our research on Cataglyphis desert ants that are a model system for path integration.
One focus is on the odometer and the mechanisms of distance estimation. We are also interested in the walking kinematics of this long-legged and fast running ant.
North African Cataglyphis desert ants are renowned for their great skills not only in surviving but successfully thriving in their hostile habitats in the Saharan desert. Cataglyphis ants are great navigators, always on the look-out for dead arthropods that succumbed to the heat of the day. They travel long distances with high walking speeds, constantly acquiring and integrating directional and distance information to form a homing vector that connects the roaming ant via an invisible link to its home nest. This so-called path integration (a form of vector navigation) is operating at any moment, complemented by visual, olfactory and tactile landmark based orientation mechanisms.
Super-sensitive treadmill reveals details of dainty ant footwork