Flexible foraging behaviour in the invasive social wasp Vespula germanica (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)
D'ADAMO, P.; LOZADA, M.
ANNALS OF THE ENTOMOLOGYCAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA
ENTOMOLOGICAL SOC AMER
Año: 2009 vol. 102 p. 1109 - 1115
The yellowjacket wasp, Vespula germanica (Fabricius), is a highly invasive wasp which exhibits efficient mechanisms while foraging. Plastic cognitive systems might be advantageous for invasive species given that they repeatedly encounter dynamic, unknown or unpredictable environments. In this study we explore memory dynamics of wasp foragers dealing with changing contexts. The aim of this work was to analyze how learning a second task interferes with the retrieval of a first learned one. We demonstrate that V. germanica wasps integrate old and new memories while foraging on non-depleted food sources. Learning a second task interferes with a first learned one when both tasks have different response requirements, probably due to response competition. Memories associated with the first learned task are not wiped out. Interestingly this pattern of memory interference does not change when decreasing the number of feeding trials. This study provides new evidence about the complex cognitive mechanisms of V. germanica wasps, which integrate old and new experiences after very few learning episodes. To our knowledge, this is the first study on memory interference in social wasps.