Papers in the Biological Sciences



Verner P. Bingman 0000-0002-5295-7096

Document Type


Date of this Version



Journal of Experimental Biology (2017) 220, 885-890 doi:10.1242/jeb.149823


© 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd. Used by permission.


Amblypygids, or whip spiders, are nocturnal, predatory arthropods that display a robust ability to navigate to their home refuge. Prior field observations and displacement studies in amblypygids demonstrated an ability to home from distances as far away as 10 m. In the current study, micro-transmitters were used to take morning position fixes of individual Paraphrynus laevifrons following an experimental displacement of 10 m from their home refuge. The intention was to assess the relative importance of vision compared with sensory input acquired from the antenniform legs for navigation as well as other aspects of their spatial behavior. Displaced individuals were randomly assigned to three treatment groups: (i) control individuals; (ii) visiondeprived individuals, VD; and (iii) individuals with sensory input from the tips of their antenniform legs compromised, AD. Control and VD subjects were generally successful in returning home, and the direction of their movement on the first night following displacement was homeward oriented. By contrast, AD subjects experienced a complete loss of navigational ability, and movement on the first night indicated no hint of homeward orientation. The data strongly support the hypothesis that sensory input from the tips of the antenniform legs is necessary for successful homing in amblypygids following displacement to an unfamiliar location, and we hypothesize an essential role of olfaction for this navigational ability.