Ajay Narendra

I am interested in how animals navigate in their natural habitats, the information content in the environment they use, the sensory structures they have and the central processing units that allow them to memorise, integrate and recall information.

My research has largely focused on ants to take advantage of the inter- and intra-specific variation in size, in locomotion, in tasks and also in the different ecological and temporal niches they occupy.

I have a keen interest in photography and love to experiment with macro-photography when time permits. Some of my pictures are here.

Career Highlights

PhD in Biological Sciences; 1 Book; 61 publications; 3 Australian Research Council Fellowships; 20 Research Grants.

Cover Images

D-X26zFXkAA6NdQ   cover.tif   cne24962-toc-0001-m   F1.medium

Scientific Career


  • 2007. Ph.D. Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
  • 2002. M.Sc. Remote Sensing, Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai, India
  • 2000. B.Sc., St Joseph’s College of Arts & Science, Bangalore, India

Grants (ongoing only)

  • 2021. Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Australia (with Fleur Ponton, Théotime Colin) ($379K)
  • 2020. Discovery Project Grant, Australian Research Council (with Ken Cheng) ($440K)

Publications (complete list on Researchgate)


  1. Pisokas I, Rossler W, Webb B, Zeil J & Narendra A. 2021. Anaesthesia disrupts distance, but not direction, of path integration memory. Current Biology DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2021.11.039
  2. Penmetcha B, Ogawa Y, Ryan LA, Nart HS & Narendra A. 2021. Ocellar spatial vision in Myrmecia ants. Journal of Experimental Biology 224: jeb242948
  3. Als V, Narendra A, Arthofer W, Krap P, Steiner FM and Schlick-Steiner BC. 2021. Colony structure, population structure, and sharing of foraging trees in the ant Myrmecia nigriceps (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Insectes Sociaux 68: 327-335
  4. Rosales R, Tapia-McClung H, Narendra A and Rao D. 2021. Many paths, one destination: mapping the movements of a kleptoparasitic spider on the host’s web. Journal of Comparative Physiology A 207: 293-301.
  5. Narendra A. 2021. Orientation by Central Place Foragers. In Encyclopedia of Social Insects [ed: CK Starr]. Springer.


  1. Kósci Z, Murray T, Dahmen H, Narendra A and Zeil J. 2020. The Antarium: a reconstructed visual reality device for ant navigation research. Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience DOI: 10.3389/fnbeh.2020.599374
  2. Kamhi JF, Barron AB and Narendra A. 2020. Vertical lobes of the mushroom bodies are essential for view-based navigation in Australian Myrmecia ants. Current Biology https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.06.030
  3. León MAC, Hernandez-Nunez L, Narendra A, Barron AB, Milford MJ. 2020. A hybrid compact neural architecture for visual place recognition. IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters 5:993-1000. DOI: 10.1109/LRA.2020.2967324
  4. Murray T, Kócsi Z, Dahmen H, Narendra A, Le Moeel F, Wystrach A and Zeil J. 2019. The role of attractive and repellent scene memories in ant homing (Myrmecia croslandi). Journal of Experimental Biology
  5. Narendra A. 2020. Book Review: Army Ants: Nature’s Ultimate Social Hunters. Myrmecological News. [Link]


  1. Rao D, Tapia-McClung H & Narendra A. 2019. Reeling in the prey: Fishing behaviour in an orb-web spider. Journal of Experimental Biology 222: jeb213751. [Featured in INSIDE JEB]
  2. Penmetcha B, Ogawa Y, Ribi WA & Narendra A. 2019. Ocellar structure in African and Australian desert ants. Journal of Comparative Physiology A 205: 699-706
  3. Palavalli-Nettimi R, Ogawa Y, Ryan LA, Hart NS and Narendra A. 2019. Miniaturisation reduces contrast sensitivity and spatial resolving power in ants. Journal of Experimental Biology 222: jeb203018. [Featured on Cover and in INSIDE JEB]
  4. Sheehan ZBV, Kamhi JF, Seid MA, Narendra A. 2019. Differential investment in brain regions for a diurnal and nocturnal lifestyle in Australian Myrmecia ants. Journal of Comparative Neurology 527:1261-1277
  5. Ogawa Y, Ryan LA, Palavalli-Nettimi R, Seeger O, Hart NS and Narendra A. 2019. Spatial resolving power and contrast sensitivity are adapted for ambient light conditions in Australian Myrmecia ants. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 7: 18. DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2019.00018


  1. Heinze S, Narendra A and Cheung A. Principles of insect path integration. Current Biology 28: 1043-1058. (link)
  2. Palavalli-Nettimi R and Narendra A. 2018. Does size affect orientation usage celestial cues. Insects Sociaux. DOI 10.1007/s00040-018-0640-9
  3. Jayatilaka P, Murray T, Narendra A and Zeil J. 2018. The choreography of learning walks in the Australian jack jumper ant Myrmecia croslandi. Journal of Experimental Biology DOI: 10.1242/jeb.185306.
  4. Palavalli-Nettimi R and Narendra A. 2018. Miniaturisation decreases visual navigational competence in ants. Journal of Experimental BiologyDOI: 10.1242/jeb.177238
  5. Freas CA. Wystrach A, Narendra A & Cheng K. 2018. The view from the trees: nocturnal bull ants, Myrmecia midas, use the surrounding panorama while descending from trees. Frontiers in Psychology 9:16. [pdf]


  1. Narendra A & Ribi WA. 2017. Ocellar structure is driven by the mode of locomotion and activity time in Myrmecia ants. Journal of Experimental Biology 220: 4383-4390. [pdf] Featured Inside JEB
  2. Ramirez-Esquivel F, Ribi WA and Narendra A. 2017. Techniques to investigate the anatomy of the ant visual system. Journal of Visualized Experiments 129: e56339. [pdf]
  3. Freas CA, Narendra A, Lemesle C & Cheng K. 2017 Polarised light use in the nocturnal bull ant Myrmecia midas. Royal Society Open Science 4: 170598 [pdf]
  4. Narendra A, Kamhi JF & Ogawa Y. 2017. Moving in dim light: behavioural and visual adaptations in nocturnal ants. Integrative and Comparative Biology 57: 1104–1116 [pdf]
  5. Ramirez-Esquivel F, Leitner NE, Zeil J & Narendra A. 2017. The sensory arrays of the ant, Temnothorax rugatulus. Arthropod Structure and Development 46: 552-563 [pdf]
  6. Narendra A & Ramirez-Esquivel F. 2017. Subtle changes in the landmark panorama disrupts visual navigation in a nocturnal bull ant. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 372: 20160068. [pdf]
  7. Freas CA, Narendra A & Cheng K. 2017. Compass cues used by a nocturnal bull ant, Myrmecia midas. Journal of Experimental Biology