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San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

D'Adamo P.,Laboratory Ecotono INIBIOMA | Lozada M.,Laboratory Ecotono INIBIOMA
Journal of Insect Science | Year: 2011

Vespula germanica (F.) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) is a highly invasive social wasp that exhibits a rich behavioral repertoire in which learning and memory play a fundamental role in foraging. The learning abilities of these wasps were analyzed while relocating a food source and whether V. germanica foragers are capable of discriminating between different orientation patterns and generalizing their choice to a new pattern. Foraging wasps were trained to associate two different stripe orientation patterns with their respective food locations. Their response to a novel configuration that maintained the orientation of one of the learned patterns but differed in other aspects (e.g. width of stripes) was then evaluated. The results support the hypothesis that V. germanica wasps are able to associate a particular oriented pattern with the location of a feeder and to generalize their choice to a new pattern, which differed in quality, but presented the same orientation. Source

Lozada M.,Laboratory Ecotono INIBIOMA | D'Adamo P.,Laboratory Ecotono INIBIOMA
Journal of Physiology Paris | Year: 2014

In this paper we review several studies on Vespula germanica behavioral plasticity while relocating a food source in natural environments. This exotic social wasp, which has become established in many parts of the world, displays diverse cognitive abilities when foraging. Given its successful invasiveness worldwide, our initial hypothesis was that this species has great behavioral plasticity, which enables it to face environmental uncertainty. In our work we have analyzed foraging behavior associated with undepleted resources. Throughout several experiments, rapid learning was observed in this species; after few learning experiences they associate diverse contextual cues with a food source. However, by exploring wasp behavior when food suddenly disappeared, either because it had been removed or displaced, we found that they continued searching over a no longer rewarding site for a considerable period of time, suggesting that past experience can hinder new learning. Particularly surprising is the fact that when food was displaced nearby, wasps persisted in searching over the empty dish, ignoring the presence of food close by. We propose that this species could be a suitable model for studying cognitive plasticity in relation to environmental uncertainty. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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