Stick insect locomotion in a complex environment: climbing over large gaps

Bläsing B, Cruse H (2004)
The Journal of Experimental Biology 207(8): 1273-1286.

Journal Article | Published | English

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Abstract
In a complex environment, animals are challenged by various types of obstacles. This requires the controller of their walking system to be highly flexible. In this study, stick insects were presented with large gaps to cross in order to observe how locomotion can be adapted to challenging environmental situations. Different approaches were used to investigate the sequence of gap-crossing behaviour. A detailed video analysis revealed that gap-crossing behaviour resembles modified walking behaviour with additional step types. The walking sequence is interrupted by an interval of exploration, in which the insect probes the gap space with its antennae and front legs. When reaching the gap, loss of contact of an antenna with the ground does not elicit any observable reactions. In contrast, an initial front leg step into the gap that often follows antennal 'non-contact' evokes slowing down of stance velocity. An ablation experiment showed that the far edge of the gap is detected by tactile antennal stimulation rather than by vision. Initial contact of an antenna or front leg with the far edge of the gap represents a 'point of no return', after which gap crossing is always successfully completed. Finally, flow chart diagrams of the gap-crossing sequence were constructed based on an ethogram of single elements of behaviour. Comparing flow charts for two gap sizes revealed differences in the frequency and succession of these elements, especially during the first part of the sequence
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Bläsing B, Cruse H. Stick insect locomotion in a complex environment: climbing over large gaps. The Journal of Experimental Biology. 2004;207(8):1273-1286.
Bläsing, B., & Cruse, H. (2004). Stick insect locomotion in a complex environment: climbing over large gaps. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 207(8), 1273-1286.
Bläsing, B., and Cruse, H. (2004). Stick insect locomotion in a complex environment: climbing over large gaps. The Journal of Experimental Biology 207, 1273-1286.
Bläsing, B., & Cruse, H., 2004. Stick insect locomotion in a complex environment: climbing over large gaps. The Journal of Experimental Biology, 207(8), p 1273-1286.
B. Bläsing and H. Cruse, “Stick insect locomotion in a complex environment: climbing over large gaps”, The Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 207, 2004, pp. 1273-1286.
Bläsing, B., Cruse, H.: Stick insect locomotion in a complex environment: climbing over large gaps. The Journal of Experimental Biology. 207, 1273-1286 (2004).
Bläsing, Bettina, and Cruse, Holk. “Stick insect locomotion in a complex environment: climbing over large gaps”. The Journal of Experimental Biology 207.8 (2004): 1273-1286.
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