Central place foragers are faced with the crucial challenge to find their way back home every time they leave their nest e.g. to search for food. In order to accomplish that, some perform so-called learning walks and flights near their nest entrance. My doctoral thesis is centered on this stunningly structured and precise behavior. Using the desert ant Cataglyphis – a famous model organism for orientation and navigation – I want to investigate the functions and mechanism of the learning walks on a neuronal and behavioral level. For this, I manipulate the information available to the ants in their natural habitat as well as under controlled conditions in the lab. Additionally, I investigate neuronal changes in the central complex and the mushroom bodies of the insect brain.
Current research projects are:
- Fine structure of learning walks in Cataglyphis (behavioral biology, Video analyzes)
- Light-dependent volume changes in the central complex and the mushroom bodies (immunohistological staining, 3D-reconstruction)
Processing of the celestial compass information in the insect brain (calcium imaging, electrophysiology)
Grob, R., Fleischmann, P. N., and Rössler, W. (2019) Learning to navigate – how desert ants calibrate their compass systems, Neuroforum 25, 109-120.
Fleischmann, P. N. *, Grob, R. *, Müller, V. L., Wehner, R., and Rössler, W. (2018) The Geomagnetic Field Is a Compass Cue in Cataglyphis Ant Navigation, Current Biology 28, 1440-1444.
Grob, R. *, Fleischmann, P. N. *, Grübel, K., Wehner, R., and Rössler, W. (2017) The Role of Celestial Compass Information in Cataglyphis Ants during Learning Walks and for Neuroplasticity in the Central Complex and Mushroom Bodies, Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 11, 226.
Fleischmann, P. N., Grob, R., Wehner, R., and Rössler, W. (2017) Species-specific differences in the fine structure of learning walk elements in Cataglyphis ants, Journal of Experimental Biology, The Company of Biologists Ltd 220, 2426--2435.