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Animation: Digger Wasps and Landmarks

by Pearson
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>> The Dutch biologist Niko Tinbergen is considered one of the founding fathers of ethology, the study of animal behavior under natural conditions. In his career, Tinbergen studied a variety of animals, including the digger wasp. He wanted to understand how the female digger wasp locates her nest after flying off to collect food. Tinbergen observed that when a digger wasp returns from hunting food, she has no trouble distinguishing her nest from the many others that may be in her neighborhood. Later, when she leaves the nest again, she makes several passes over the nest's entrance. Tinbergen hypothesized that a wasp learns the landmarks around the nest and uses these cues to find the correct nest when she returns with prey. Biologists classify the use of familiar landmarks to navigate as piloting. To test his hypothesis, Tinbergen waited until a wasp entered her nest. Then he created new landmarks by adding a ring of pine cones around the entrance. The wasp left her nest, and as usual, made several passes over the nest's entrance before flying away. Would the wasp notice the change and use characteristics of this artificial environment to find her way back to the nest? To test whether the digger wasp will use the ring of pine cones to navigate back to her nest, Tinbergen moved the ring of pine cones to one side of the nest and observed her behavior when she returned. As we can see, the wasp returned to the ring of cones instead of the nest. We can conclude that digger wasps use characteristics of objects in the environment to navigate back to their nests.
>> The Dutch biologist Niko Tinbergen is considered one of the founding fathers of ethology, the study of animal behavior under natural conditions. In his career, Tinbergen studied a variety of animals, including the digger wasp. He wanted to understand how the female digger wasp locates her nest after flying off to collect food. Tinbergen observed that when a digger wasp returns from hunting food, she has no trouble distinguishing her nest from the many others that may be in her neighborhood. Later, when she leaves the nest again, she makes several passes over the nest's entrance. Tinbergen hypothesized that a wasp learns the landmarks around the nest and uses these cues to find the correct nest when she returns with prey. Biologists classify the use of familiar landmarks to navigate as piloting. To test his hypothesis, Tinbergen waited until a wasp entered her nest. Then he created new landmarks by adding a ring of pine cones around the entrance. The wasp left her nest, and as usual, made several passes over the nest's entrance before flying away. Would the wasp notice the change and use characteristics of this artificial environment to find her way back to the nest? To test whether the digger wasp will use the ring of pine cones to navigate back to her nest, Tinbergen moved the ring of pine cones to one side of the nest and observed her behavior when she returned. As we can see, the wasp returned to the ring of cones instead of the nest. We can conclude that digger wasps use characteristics of objects in the environment to navigate back to their nests.