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Bumblebee flight performance in environments of different proximity.

  • Nellie Linander
  • Emily Baird
  • Marie Dacke
Publishing year: 2015-11-27
Language: English
Publication/Series: Journal of comparative physiology. A, Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

Flying animals are capable of navigating through environments of different complexity with high precision. To control their flight when negotiating narrow tunnels, bees and birds use the magnitude of apparent image motion (known as optic flow) generated by the walls. In their natural habitat, however, these animals would encounter both cluttered and open environments. Here, we investigate how large changes in the proximity of nearby surfaces affect optic flow-based flight control strategies. We trained bumblebees to fly along a flight and recorded how the distance between the walls-from 60 cm to 240 cm-affected their flight control. Our results reveal that, as tunnel width increases, both lateral position and ground speed become increasingly variable. We also find that optic flow information from the ground has an increasing influence on flight control, suggesting that bumblebees measure optic flow flexibly over a large lateral and ventral field of view, depending on where the highest magnitude of optic flow occurs. A consequence of this strategy is that, when flying in narrow spaces, bumblebees use optic flow information from the nearby obstacles to control flight, while in more open spaces they rely primarily on optic flow cues from the ground.


  • Zoology


  • ISSN: 1432-1351
Emily Baird
E-mail: emily [dot] baird [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Functional zoology

+46 46 222 96 18

+46 72 700 55 55



Research group

Lund Vision Group


Doctoral students and postdocs

PhD Students, main supervisor

Pierre Tichit

PhD Students, assistant supervisor

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