Javascript is not activated in your browser. This website needs javascript activated to work properly.
You are here

Finding the gap : A brightness-based strategy for guidance in cluttered environments

  • Emily Baird
  • Marie Dacke
Publishing year: 2016-04-06
Language: English
Publication/Series: Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences
Volume: 283
Issue: 1828
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Royal Society

Abstract english

The ability to move safely between obstacles is critical for animals that fly rapidly through cluttered environments but surprisingly little is known about how they achieve this. Do they reactively avoid obstacles or do they instead fly towards the gaps between them? If they aim towards gaps, what information do they use to detect and fly through them? Here, we aim to answer these questions by presenting orchid bees with different apertures. When negotiating gaps, orchid bees locate and fly close to the point that gives themgreatest clearance from the edges. The cue that they use to pinpoint this spot is the brightness gradient formed across the aperture. Furthermore, we find that orchid bees also rely on brightness cues to locate gaps that are sufficiently large to negotiate safely. The advantage of using brightness for locating and negotiating gaps in a cluttered environment is that it provides information about the safest path through obstacles, at least in a forest environment. This brightness-based guidance strategy for gap detection and negotiation represents a fast, computationally simple and efficient mechanism to identify the clearest path through a forest and is, therefore, likely to represent a more general mechanism used by other animals.


  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Zoology
  • Brightness
  • Flight
  • Guidance
  • Insect
  • Orchid bee
  • Vision


  • Lund Vision Group
  • ISSN: 0962-8452
Marie Dacke
E-mail: marie [dot] dacke [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Functional zoology

+46 46 222 93 36