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Dung beetle dance provides crucial orientation cues

Date:
January 25, 2012
Source:
Lund University
Summary:
Dung beetle dance provides crucial orientation cues: Beetles climb on top of ball, rotate to get their bearings to maintain straight trajectory.

Dung beetle dance provides crucial orientation cues: Beetles climb on top of ball, rotate to get their bearings to maintain straight trajectory.

The dung beetle dance, performed as the beetle moves away from the dung pile with his precious dung ball, is a mechanism to maintain the desired straight-line departure from the pile, according to a study published in the Jan. 18 issue of the online journal PLoS ONE.

The purpose of this dance, in which the beetle climbs to the top of the ball and rotates, had previously been unknown, so the authors of the PLoS ONE study, led by Emily Baird of Lund University in Sweden, investigated the circumstances that cause the beetle to dance.

They found that the beetles are most likely to perform the dance before moving away from the pile, upon encountering an obstacle, or if they have lost control of the ball, suggesting that the behavior is crucial for keeping the ball moving in a straight line.

Such direct, efficient navigation allows the beetle to quickly move away from the intense competition from other beetles at the dung pile. The authors propose that the beetles store a compass reading of celestial cues during the dance, which they then use to guide their straight-line trajectory.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Lund University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Emily Baird, Marcus J. Byrne, Jochen Smolka, Eric J. Warrant, Marie Dacke. The Dung Beetle Dance: An Orientation Behaviour? PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (1): e30211 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030211

Cite This Page:

Lund University. "Dung beetle dance provides crucial orientation cues." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120119101555.htm>.
Lund University. (2012, January 25). Dung beetle dance provides crucial orientation cues. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120119101555.htm
Lund University. "Dung beetle dance provides crucial orientation cues." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120119101555.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

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