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Bombus learning

Florencia Palottini, María C Estravis Barcala, Walter M Farina
Learning about olfactory stimuli is essential in bumblebees' life since it is involved in orientation, recognition of nest sites, foraging efficiency and food yield for the colony as a whole. To evaluate associative learning abilities in bees under controlled environmental conditions, the proboscis extension response (PER) assay is a well-established method used in honey bees, stingless bees and successfully adapted to bumblebees of the genus Bombus . However, studies on the learning capacity of Bombus atratus (Hymenoptera: Apidae), one of the most abundant native species in South America, are non-existent...
2018: Frontiers in Psychology
Callum D Martin, Michelle T Fountain, Mark J F Brown
Parasites can induce behavioural changes in their host organisms. Several parasite species are known to infect bumblebees, an important group of pollinators. Task allocation within bumblebee colonies can also cause differences in behaviour. Thus, task allocation may lead to context-dependent impacts of parasites on host behaviour. This study uses Bombus terrestris and its gut trypanosome Crithidia bombi, to investigate the effects of parasitism, task allocation (foraging or nest-work) and their interactions, on olfactory learning...
April 11, 2018: Scientific Reports
Li Li, Songkun Su, Clint J Perry, Maurice R Elphick, Lars Chittka, Eirik Søvik
Many genes have been implicated in mechanisms of long-term memory formation, but there is still much to be learnt about how the genome dynamically responds, transcriptionally, during memory formation. In this study, we used high-throughput sequencing to examine how transcriptome profiles change during visual memory formation in the bumblebee (Bombus terrestris). Expression of fifty-five genes changed immediately after bees were trained to associate reward with a single coloured chip, and the upregulated genes were predominantly genes known to be involved in signal transduction...
January 11, 2018: Scientific Reports
David A Lawson, Heather M Whitney, Sean A Rands
The majority of floral displays simultaneously broadcast signals from multiple sensory modalities, but these multimodal displays come at both a metabolic cost and an increased conspicuousness to floral antagonists. Why then do plants invest in these costly multimodal displays? The efficacy backup hypothesis suggests that individual signal components act as a backup for others in the presence of environmental variability. Here, we test the efficacy backup hypothesis by investigating the ability of bumblebees to differentiate between sets of artificial flowers in the presence of either chemical interference or high wind speeds, both of which have the potential to impede the transmission of olfactory signals...
November 2017: Royal Society Open Science
Jordan D Phelps, Caroline G Strang, Malgorzata Gbylik-Sikorska, Tomasz Sniegocki, Andrzej Posyniak, David F Sherry
Bee pollination is economically and ecologically vital and recent declines in bee populations are therefore a concern. One possible cause of bee declines is pesticide use. Bumblebees exposed to imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid pesticide, have been shown to be less efficient foragers and collect less pollen on foraging trips than unexposed bees. We investigated whether bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) chronically exposed to imidacloprid at field-realistic levels of 2.6 and 10 ppb showed learning deficits that could affect foraging...
March 2018: Ecotoxicology
Géraud de Premorel, Martin Giurfa, Christine Andraud, Doris Gomez
Iridescence-change of colour with changes in the angle of view or of illumination-is widespread in the living world, but its functions remain poorly understood. The presence of iridescence has been suggested in flowers where diffraction gratings generate iridescent colours. Such colours have been suggested to serve plant-pollinator communication. Here we tested whether a higher iridescence relative to corolla pigmentation would facilitate discrimination, learning and retention of iridescent visual targets. We conditioned bumblebees ( Bombus terrestris ) to discriminate iridescent from non-iridescent artificial flowers and we varied iridescence detectability by varying target iridescent relative to pigment optical effect...
October 25, 2017: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Li Li, HaDi MaBouDi, Michaela Egertová, Maurice R Elphick, Lars Chittka, Clint J Perry
Synaptic plasticity is considered to be a basis for learning and memory. However, the relationship between synaptic arrangements and individual differences in learning and memory is poorly understood. Here, we explored how the density of microglomeruli (synaptic complexes) within specific regions of the bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) brain relates to both visual learning and inter-individual differences in learning and memory performance on a visual discrimination task. Using whole-brain immunolabelling, we measured the density of microglomeruli in the collar region (visual association areas) of the mushroom bodies of the bumblebee brain...
October 11, 2017: Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Adriana Schatton, Constance Scharff
The arthropod mushroom bodies (MB) are a higher order sensory integration center. In insects, they play a central role in associative olfactory learning and memory. In Drosophila melanogaster (Dm), the highly ordered connectivity of heterogeneous MB neuron populations has been mapped using sophisticated molecular genetic and anatomical techniques. The MB-core subpopulation was recently shown to express the transcription factor FoxP with relevance for decision-making. Here we report the development and adult distribution of a FoxP-expressing neuron population in the MB of honeybees (Apis mellifera, Am) using in situ hybridization and a custom-made antiserum...
September 16, 2017: European Journal of Neuroscience
Lisa J Evans, Karen E Smith, Nigel E Raine
Despite widespread interest in the potential adaptive value of individual differences in cognition, few studies have attempted to address the question of how variation in learning and memory impacts their performance in natural environments. Using a novel split-colony experimental design we evaluated visual learning performance of foraging naïve bumble bees (Bombus terrestris) in an ecologically relevant associative learning task under controlled laboratory conditions, before monitoring the lifetime foraging performance of the same individual bees in the field...
March 29, 2017: Scientific Reports
Théo Robert, Elisa Frasnelli, Thomas S Collett, Natalie Hempel de Ibarra
Female bees and wasps demonstrate, through their performance of elaborate learning flights, when and where they memorise features of a significant site. An important feature of these flights is that the insects look back to fixate the site that they are leaving. Females, which forage for nectar and pollen and return with it to the nest, execute learning flights on their initial departure from both their nest and newly discovered flowers. To our knowledge, these flights have so far only been studied in females...
March 1, 2017: Journal of Experimental Biology
Emma Thompson, Catherine Plowright
Picture-object correspondence provides an alternate method of investigating delayed matching by providing a cue (picture) which may be spontaneously perceived as similar but different from a corresponding target. Memory for, and corresponding choice of, a target corresponding to a cue could be facilitated by the use of a picture. Bumblebees have been found to both easily differentiate images from corresponding objects but also spontaneously perceive a similarity between the two. Herein, an approach was designed to test the possible use of picture cues to signal reward in a delayed matching task...
October 14, 2016: Behavioral Sciences
Joseph L Woodgate, James C Makinson, Ka S Lim, Andrew M Reynolds, Lars Chittka
Insect pollinators such as bumblebees play a vital role in many ecosystems, so it is important to understand their foraging movements on a landscape scale. We used harmonic radar to record the natural foraging behaviour of Bombus terrestris audax workers over their entire foraging career. Every flight ever made outside the nest by four foragers was recorded. Our data reveal where the bees flew and how their behaviour changed with experience, at an unprecedented level of detail. We identified how each bee's flights fit into two categories-which we named exploration and exploitation flights-examining the differences between the two types of flight and how their occurrence changed over the course of the bees' foraging careers...
2016: PloS One
Tan Morgan, Penelope Whitehorn, Gillian C Lye, Mario Vallejo-Marín
Bumblebees demonstrate an extensive capacity for learning complex motor skills to maximise exploitation of floral rewards. This ability is well studied in nectar collection but its role in pollen foraging is less well understood. Floral sonication is used by bees to extract pollen from some plant species with anthers which must be vibrated (buzzed) to release pollen. Pollen removal is determined by sonication characteristics including frequency and amplitude, and thus the ability to optimise sonication should allow bees to maximise the pollen collection...
2016: Journal of Insect Behavior
Aimee S Dunlap, Matthew E Nielsen, Anna Dornhaus, Daniel R Papaj
Many animals, including insects, make decisions using both personally gathered information and social information derived from the behavior of other, usually conspecific, individuals [1]. Moreover, animals adjust use of social versus personal information appropriately under a variety of experimental conditions [2-5]. An important factor in how information is used is the information's reliability, that is, how consistently the information is correlated with something of relevance in the environment [6]. The reliability of information determines which signals should be attended to during communication [6-9], which types of stimuli animals should learn about, and even whether learning should evolve [10, 11]...
May 9, 2016: Current Biology: CB
Erno Kuusela, Juho Lämsä
Human observations during behavioral studies are expensive, time-consuming, and error prone. For this reason, automatization of experiments is highly desirable, as it reduces the risk of human errors and workload. The robotic system we developed is simple and cheap to build and handles feeding and data collection automatically. The system was built using mostly off-the-shelf components and has a novel feeding mechanism that uses servos to perform refill operations. We used the robotic system in two separate behavioral studies with bumblebees (Bombus terrestris): The system was used both for training of the bees and for the experimental data collection...
April 2016: Ecology and Evolution
Saija Piiroinen, Cristina Botías, Elizabeth Nicholls, Dave Goulson
In recent years, many pollinators have declined in abundance and diversity worldwide, presenting a potential threat to agricultural productivity, biodiversity and the functioning of natural ecosystems. One of the most debated factors proposed to be contributing to pollinator declines is exposure to pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, a widely used class of systemic insecticide. Also, newly emerging parasites and diseases, thought to be spread via contact with managed honeybees, may pose threats to other pollinators such as bumblebees...
2016: PeerJ
Stephan Wolf, Lars Chittka
The learning capacities of males and females may differ with sex-specific behavioural requirements. Bumblebees provide a useful model system to explore how different lifestyles are reflected in learning abilities, because their (female but sterile) workers and males engage in fundamentally different behaviour routines. Bumblebee males, like workers, embark on active flower foraging but in contrast to workers they have to trade off their feeding with mate search, potentially affecting their abilities to learn and utilize floral cues efficiently during foraging...
January 2016: Animal Behaviour
Coline C Jaworski, Christophe Andalo, Christine Raynaud, Valérie Simon, Christophe Thébaud, Jérôme Chave
Understanding how pollinator behavior may influence pollen transmission across floral types is a major challenge, as pollinator decision depends on a complex range of environmental cues and prior experience. Here we report an experiment using the plant Antirrhinum majus and the bumblebee Bombus terrestris to investigate how prior learning experience may affect pollinator preferences between floral types when these are presented together. We trained naive bumblebees to forage freely on flowering individuals of either A...
2015: PloS One
Leonie Lichtenstein, Frank M J Sommerlandt, Johannes Spaethe
More than 100 years ago, Karl von Frisch showed that honeybee workers learn and discriminate colors. Since then, many studies confirmed the color learning capabilities of females from various hymenopteran species. Yet, little is known about visual learning and memory in males despite the fact that in most bee species males must take care of their own needs and must find rewarding flowers to obtain food. Here we used the proboscis extension response (PER) paradigm to study the color learning capacities of workers and drones of the bumblebee, Bombus terrestris...
2015: PloS One
Fabian A Ruedenauer, Johannes Spaethe, Sara D Leonhardt
In view of the ongoing pollinator decline, the role of nutrition in bee health has received increasing attention. Bees obtain fat, carbohydrates and protein from pollen and nectar. As both excessive and deficient amounts of these macronutrients are detrimental, bees would benefit from assessing food quality to guarantee an optimal nutrient supply. While bees can detect sucrose and use it to assess nectar quality, it is unknown whether they can assess the macronutrient content of pollen. Previous studies have shown that bees preferentially collect pollen of higher protein content, suggesting that differences in pollen quality can be detected either by individual bees or via feedback from larvae...
July 2015: Journal of Experimental Biology
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