• Honeybees (partly marked) on the edge of a brood frame
Chair of Behavioral Physiology & Sociobiology

Fleischmann, Pauline

Dr. Pauline Fleischmann

Zoology II / Rössler lab
Universität Würzburg
Am Hubland
97074 Würzburg
Building: B1 (Biozentrum)
Room: D141
Link: Rössler lab
Portrait of Dr. Pauline Fleischmann

Cataglyphis desert ants are famous for their navigational abilities. To return to their nest entrance – a tiny hole in the ground invisible from the ant’s perspective – after far-ranging foraging trips, they use any information available. They use celestial compass cues (position of the sun and polarization pattern) and information from their idiothetic step integrator for vector navigation. Furthermore, they use visual, olfactory and tactile landmarks to home successfully. Before starting their foraging career outside the dark nest, they have to calibrate their compass systems and learn all information necessary. For that, they perform so-called learning walks. During these explorative trips, they frequently look back to the nest entrance to take snapshots of their homing direction. To align their gaze directions, they use the earth’s magnetic field. Therefore, Cataglyphis ants have a magnetic compass that was unknown until recently.

Starting point of my postdoc project is the question why Cataglyphis ants use two different compass systems (celestial compass and magnetic compass) for path integration and how these systems are linked. To find an answer, I perform both behavioral and neurobiological experiments in the field in Greece and in the lab in Würzburg. The results may help to search successfully for the magnetic sense that is still an enigma – despite the fact that many animal species use the earth’s magnetic field for navigation, we do only know very little about the sensory and neuronal basis.

  • 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.
  • Fleischmann, P. N., Rössler, W., and Wehner, R. (2018) Early foraging life: spatial and temporal aspects of landmark learning in the ant Cataglyphis noda, Journal of Comparative Physiology A 204, 579–592.
  • 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.
  • Fleischmann, P. N., Christian, M., Müller, V. L., Rössler, W., and Wehner, R. (2016) Ontogeny of learning walks and the acquisition of landmark information in desert ants, Cataglyphis fortis, Journal of Experimental Biology, The Company of Biologists Ltd 219, 3137–3145.