Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Major

Biology

Date of Defense

10-11-2016

Graduate Advisor

Aimee Dunlap, PhD

Committee

Nathan Muchhala

Zuleyma Tang-Martinez

Abstract

Information is everywhere in nature, however it can be deceitful or incorrect, so not all information should be used. Foraging pollinators utilize variable and ephemeral resources so learning about patch quality and nectar replenishment rates are essential to success and survival. However, remembering information after it is no longer relevant is not advantageous. It has been theorized that a pollinator’s memory should reflect their environment. Bumblebees are known to use both personal information (information gathered through trial and error) and social information (information gained through observations of or interactions with other animals or their products) in foraging decisions; however, it is currently unknown how social and personal information are valued in bumblebee memory. We conducted an experiment to illuminate the rate at which bumblebees (Bombus impatiens)learn and forget personal and social information. We manipulated the value of social and personal information by varying their reliabilities, and tested the retention of that learned information after 4, 8, and 24 hours. We found that social information is retained better than personal information, and retention decreases as time since learning increases. This experiment is a first step toward elucidating when social or personal information is more valuable to a forager.

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