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Visual flight control in naturalistic and artificial environments.

  • Emily Baird
  • Marie Dacke
Publishing year: 2012
Language: English
Pages: 869-876
Publication/Series: Journal of comparative physiology A,: Neuroethology, sensory, neural, and behavioral physiology
Volume: 198
Issue: 12
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

Although the visual flight control strategies of flying insects have evolved to cope with the complexity of the natural world, studies investigating this behaviour have typically been performed indoors using simplified two-dimensional artificial visual stimuli. How well do the results from these studies reflect the natural behaviour of flying insects considering the radical differences in contrast, spatial composition, colour and dimensionality between these visual environments? Here, we aim to answer this question by investigating the effect of three- and two-dimensional naturalistic and artificial scenes on bumblebee flight control in an outdoor setting and compare the results with those of similar experiments performed in an indoor setting. In particular, we focus on investigating the effect of axial (front-to-back) visual motion cues on ground speed and centring behaviour. Our results suggest that, in general, ground speed control and centring behaviour in bumblebees is not affected by whether the visual scene is two- or three dimensional, naturalistic or artificial, or whether the experiment is conducted indoors or outdoors. The only effect that we observe between naturalistic and artificial scenes on flight control is that when the visual scene is three-dimensional and the visual information on the floor is minimised, bumblebees fly further from the midline of the tunnel. The findings presented here have implications not only for understanding the mechanisms of visual flight control in bumblebees, but also for the results of past and future investigations into visually guided flight control in other insects.


  • Zoology
  • Bumblebee
  • Vision
  • Flight control
  • Ground speed
  • Centring


  • 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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