Johanna Tross


In the context of my doctoral thesis in the working group of Prof. Dr. Harald Wolf and Dr. Sarah Pfeffer, I focus on the locomotion and navigation of arthropods, especially desert ants.

Arthropods display a variety of fascinating abilities in terms of locomotion and orientation in their environment. These include, for example, stable locomotion on uneven surfaces, reaching extremely high walking speeds or navigation over long distances with or without existing landmarks.

The main points of my thesis are:

  • locomotion
  • orientation and navigation
  • influence of insecticides on locomotion and navigation

I am working with ants of the species Camponotus fellah and various Cataglyphis species from Tunisia. My focus is currently on the allometry of locomotion in Camponotus fellah and as well on orientation and learning.

Desert ants are well established model organisms in terms of orientation and navigation. To withstand the heat stress of their environment, they can reach extremely high walking speeds of up to 100 body lengths per second. During my research, I investigate how these walking speeds are achieved and how locomotion patterns change with speed in different ant species.  In this context I also address the question of whether and to what extent body size influences locomotion. Furthermore, I study the navigation behaviour of the ants and also address the question of whether learning takes place in this context.


Foto of Johanna Tross