Papers in the Biological Sciences


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Published in Behavioural Processes 108 (2014), pp 123–130. doi 10.1016/j.beproc.2014.09.014


Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. Used by permission


Like many other nocturnal arthropods, the amblypygid Phrynus pseudoparvulus is capable of homing. The environment through which these predators navigate is a dense and heterogeneous tropical forest understory and the mechanism(s) underlying their putatively complex navigational abilities are presently unknown. This study explores the sensory inputs that might facilitate nocturnal navigation in the amblypygid P. pseudoparvulus. Specifically, we use sensory system manipulations in conjunction with field displacements to examine the potential involvement of multimodal—olfactory and visual—stimuli in P. pseudoparvulus’ homing behavior. In a first experiment, we deprived individuals of their olfactory capacity and displaced them to the opposite side of their home trees (<5 m). We found that olfaction-intact individuals were more likely to be re-sighted in their home refuges than olfaction-deprived individuals. In a second experiment, we independently manipulated both olfactory and visual sensory capacities in conjunction with longer-distance displacements (8 m) from home trees. We found that sensory-intact individuals tended to be re-sighted on their home tree more often than sensory-deprived individuals, with a stronger effect of olfactory deprivation than visual deprivation. Comparing across sensory modality manipulations, olfaction-manipulated individuals took longer to return to their home trees than vision-manipulated individuals. Together, our results indicate that olfaction is important in the nocturnal navigation of P. pseudoparvulus and suggest that vision may also play a more minor role.