Long-term spatial memory in Vespula germanica social wasps: the influence of past experience on foraging behavior
MOREYRA SABRINA; D'ADAMO, P.; LOZADA M.
WILEY-BLACKWELL PUBLISHING, INC
Lugar: Londres; Año: 2016
Social insects exhibit complex learning and memory mechanisms while foraging. Vespula germanica (Fab.) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) is an invasive social wasp that frequently forages on un-depleted food sources, making several flights between the resource and the nest. Previous studies have shown that during this relocating behavior, wasps learn to associate food with a certain site, and can recall this association 1 h later. In this work, we evaluated whether this wasp species is capable of retrieving an established association after 24 h. For this purpose, we trained free flying individuals to collect proteinaceous food from an experimental plate (feeder) located in an experimental array. A total of 150 individuals were allowed 2, 4 or 8 visits. After the training phase, the array was removed and set up again 24 h later, but this time a second baited plate was placed opposite to the first. After 24 h we recorded the rate of wasps that returned to the experimental area and those which collected food from the previously learned feeding station or the non-learned one. During the testing phase, we observed that a low rate of wasps trained with 2 collecting visits returned to the experimental area (22%), whereas the rate of returning wasps trained with 4 or 8 collecting visits was higher (51% and 41%, respectively). Moreover, wasps trained with 8 feeding visits collected food from the previously learned feeding station at a higher rate than those that did from the non-learned one. In contrast, wasps trained 2 or 4 times chose both feeding stations at a similar rate. Thus, significantly more wasps returned to the previously learned feeding station after 8 repeated foraging flights but not after only 2 or 4 visits. This is the first report that demonstrates the existence of long-term spatial memory in V. germanica wasps.