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Animals commonly integrate multiple sources of information to guide their behavior. Among insects, previous studies have suggested that the relative reliability of cues affects their weighting in behavior, but have not systematically explored how well alternative integration strategies can account for the observed directional choices. Here, we characterize the directional reliability of an ersatz sun at different elevations and wind at different speeds as guiding cues for a species of ball-rolling dung beetle. The relative reliability is then shown to determine which cue dominates when the cues are put in conflict. We further show through modeling that the results are best explained by continuous integration of the cues as a vector-sum (rather than switching between them) but with non-optimal weighting and small individual biases. The neural circuitry in the insect central complex appears to provide an ideal substrate for this type of vector-sum-based integration mechanism.
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