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Abstract

Many animals establish, learn and optimize routes between locations to commute efficiently. One step in understanding route following is defining measures of similarities between the paths taken by the animals. Paths have commonly been compared by using several descriptors (e.g., the speed, distance traveled, or the amount of meandering) or were visually classified into categories by the experimenters. However, similar quantities obtained from such descriptors do not guarantee similar paths, and qualitative classification by experimenters is prone to observer biases. Here we propose a novel method to classify paths based on their similarity with different distance functions and clustering algorithms based on the trajectories of bumblebees flying through a cluttered environment. We established a method based on two distance functions (Dynamic Time Warping and Fréchet Distance). For all combinations of trajectories, the distance was calculated with each measure. Based on these distance values, we grouped similar trajectories by applying the Monte Carlo Reference-Based Consensus Clustering algorithm. Our procedure provides new options for trajectory analysis based on path similarities in a variety of experimental paradigms.