Ajay Narendra

Animals use visual information to find home, locate mates, avoid obstacles and capture prey. I am interested in understanding how animals learn, memorise and recall spatial information. Towards this, I study the behaviour of animals in their natural habitat, map the information content in the environment, and analyse their sensory systems and neural tissues required for information processing tasks. My research has largely focused on insects to take advantage of the inter- and intra-specific variation in size and tasks that they carry out in discrete ecological and temporal niches.

A second aspect of my research aims to promote native insect pollinators and develop methods and techniques to control pests and diseases of native insects.

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; 65 publications; 3 Australian Research Council Fellowships; 21 Research Grants.

Cover Images

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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)

  • 2023. Discovery Project Grant, Australian Research Council: ($739K)
  • 2022. Hort Innovation Australia (with Fleur Ponton, Théotime Colin, Sasha Tetu): $2.028M
  • 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)

Selected Publications (complete list here)

  • Rao D, Long SM, Tapia-McClung H, Salgado-Espinosa K, Narendra A, Aguilar-Argüello S, Robledo-Ospin L, Rodriguez-Morales D and Jakob EM. 2022. Visual signals in the wing display of a tephritid fly deter jumping spider attacks. Journal of Experimental Biology 225: jeb244223.
  • Aceves-Aparicio A, Narendra A, McLean DJ Lowe EC, Christian M, Wolff JO, Schneider JM, Herberstein ME. 2022. Fast acrobatic manoeuvres enable arboreal spiders to hunt dangerous prey. Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences 119: e2205942119. See Video 1; Video 2.
  • Ogawa Y, Narendra A and Hemmi JM. 2022. Nocturnal Myrmecia ants have faster temporal resolution at low light levels but lower adaptability compared to diurnal relatives. iScience 25: 104134 [pdf]
  • Pisokas I, Rössler W, Webb B, Zeil J & Narendra A. 2022. Anaesthesia disrupts distance, but not direction, of path integration memory. Current Biology 32: 445-452. [in Conversation]
  • 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
  • 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 30: 3432-3437 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.06.030
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Heinze S, Narendra A and Cheung A. 2018. Principles of insect path integration. Current Biology 28: 1043-1058. (link)
  • 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 221: jeb185306. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.185306.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Narendra A, Greiner B, Ribi WA & Zeil J. 2016. Light and dark adaptation mechanisms in the compound eyes of Myrmecia ants that occupy discrete temporal niches. Journal of Experimental Biology 219, 2435-2442.
  • Zeil J, Narendra A & Stürzl W. 2014. Looking and homing: how displaced ants decide where to go. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 369: 20130034.
  • Narendra A, Gourmaud S & Zeil J. 2013. Mapping the navigational knowledge of individually foraging ants, Myrmecia croslandiProceedings of the Royal Society B 208: 20130683.