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 the sensory 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)

  • 2022. 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)

Publications (complete list on Researchgate)


  1. 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.
  2. Gibb H, Bishop TR, Leahy L, Parr CL, Lessard J-P, Sanders NJ, Shik JZ, Ibarra-Isassi J, Narendra A, Dunn RR and Wright IJ. 2022. Ecological strategies of (pl)ants: toward a world-wide worker economic spectrum for ants. Functional Ecology DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.14135
  3. 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]
  4. Herberstein ME, McLean DJ, Lowe E, Wolff JO, Khan Md K, Smith K, Allen AP, Bulbert M, Buzatto BA, Eldridge MDB, Falster D, Winzer LF, Griffith SC, Madin JS, Narendra A, Westoby M, Whiting MJ, Wright IJ & Carthey AJR. 2022. AnimalTraits – a curated animal trait database for body mass, metabolic rate and brain size. Scientific Data 9: 265. [pdf] [github]
  5. 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]


  1. Penmetcha B, Ogawa Y, Ryan LA, Nart HS & Narendra A. 2021. Ocellar spatial vision in Myrmecia ants. Journal of Experimental Biology 224: jeb242948
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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. WystrachA, 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]