Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 201, Issue 6, pp 517–532 | Cite as

Path integration, views, search, and matched filters: the contributions of Rüdiger Wehner to the study of orientation and navigation

  • Ken Cheng
  • Cody A. Freas
Original Paper


Rüdiger Wehner’s work on insect orientation and navigation has influenced many scientists studying navigation, not only in ants and bees, but in other animals as well. We review the scientific legacy of six topics arising from Wehner’s work on navigation. The polarisation compass is a chapter with a lot of behavioural and neurobiological detail. It has influenced the study of polarisation vision in other systems, and led Wehner to formulate the concept of a matched filter. The matched filter has probably had earlier formulations, but Wehner’s paper on it has been much cited in studies on navigation and in other fields. The polarisation compass serves the task of path integration in insects. Work on path integration took off in the 1980s with work on desert ants and rodents. The use of terrestrial visual cues, landmarks or the panorama in view-based matching is another major theme of navigational research today. Search strategies were also well described in desert ants, and this line of research helped to launch theoretical and empirical developments in searching behaviour, now a lively area of research. Finally, robotic work has often drawn inspiration from work on insect navigation. We end with some discussion of current research directions.


Polarisation compass Path integration Matched filter Panorama Search 



We wish to thank Tom Collett, Sibylle Wehner, and an anonymous reviewer for comments on this manuscript.

Conflict of interst

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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