Role of the light source position in freely falling hoverflies' stabilization performances

Roman Goulard, Anna Verbe, Jean-Louis Vercher, Stéphane Viollet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The stabilization of plummeting hoverflies was filmed and analysed in terms of their wingbeat initiation times as well as the crash and stabilization rates. The flies experienced near-weightlessness for a period of time that depended on their ability to counteract the free fall by triggering their wingbeats. In this paradigm, hoverfliestextquoteright flight stabilization strategies were investigated here for the first time under two different positions of the light source (overhead and bottom lighting). The crash rates were higher in bottom lighting conditions than with top lighting. In addition, adding a texture to the walls reduced the crash rates only in the overhead lighting condition. The position of the lighting also significantly affected both the stabilization rates and the time taken by the flies to stabilize, which decreased and increased under bottom lighting conditions, respectively, whereas textured walls increased the stabilization rates under both lighting conditions. These results support the idea that flies may mainly base their flight control strategy on visual cues and particularly that the light distribution in the visual field may provide reliable, efficient cues for estimating their orientation with respect to an allocentric reference frame. In addition, the finding that the hoverfliestextquoteright optic flow-based motion detection ability is affected by the position of the light source in their visual field suggests the occurrence of interactions between movement perception and this visual vertical perception process.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20180051
Number of pages5
JournalBiology letters
Volume14
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2018

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