Faculté des sciences

Carry-over effects of bumblebee associative learning in changing plant communities leads to increased costs of foraging

Internicola, Antonina I. ; Page, Paul A. ; Bernasconi, Giorgina ; Gigord, Luc D. B.

In: Arthropod-Plant Interactions, 2009, vol. 3, no. 1, p. 17-26

Flower visitors learn to avoid food-deceptive plants and to prefer rewarding ones by associating floral cues to rewards. As co-occurring plant species have different phenologies, cue-reward associations vary over time. It is not known how these variations affect flower visitors’ foraging costs and learning. We trained bumblebees of two colonies to forage in a community of deceptive and... Plus

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    Summary
    Flower visitors learn to avoid food-deceptive plants and to prefer rewarding ones by associating floral cues to rewards. As co-occurring plant species have different phenologies, cue-reward associations vary over time. It is not known how these variations affect flower visitors’ foraging costs and learning. We trained bumblebees of two colonies to forage in a community of deceptive and rewarding artificial inflorescences whose flower colours were either similar or dissimilar. We then modified the community composition by turning the rewarding inflorescences into unrewarding and adding rewarding inflorescences of a novel flower colour. In the short term, bees trained to similar rather than dissimilar inflorescences experienced higher costs of foraging (decreased foraging speed and accuracy) in the novel community. The colonies differed in their speed-accuracy trade-off. In the longer term, bees adapted their foraging behaviour to the novel community composition by increasingly visiting the novel rewarding inflorescences.