Individuality and consistency in foraging behaviour of the Bumblebee Bombus terrestris
Many vertebrates and a few invertebrates are known to show individual-specific consistency in their behaviour across time and situations, sometimes in ways that can be paralleled with human personality. Despite their relatively small brains, bees show remarkable cognitive abilities. It is therefore not unreasonable to speculate that, as other animals with such cognitive abilities, they too would be able to show some form of animal personality. The first three chapters of this work are theoretical and discuss relevant concepts and controversies in the field of animal personality. Chapter 4 explored the possibility of individual bees differing in their ability to learn to associate stimuli with reward. While some bees learned to differentiate between two stimuli with a high degree of accuracy, others made frequent mistakes, independently of the modality or dimension of the stimuli considered. Bees therefore appeared to differ individually in their ability to discriminate between stimuli. Chapter 5 of this work aimed at answering the question of whether individual bees consistently differ in their behaviour, which is a prerequisite to establishing the existence of personality in any animal. Individual bees’ response to novelty (neophobianeophilia) was found to be relatively predictable within a short time scale but not on the long term. Neophobia-neophilia is therefore an episodic personality trait. Chapter 6 was concerned with individual responses to a simulated predation threat. Individual bees were found to vary widely, both qualitatively and quantitatively. These responses were consistent through time and so were other features of their foraging behaviours. Taken together, my findings provide an insight into individual variations in foraging behaviour in the bumblebee Bombus terrestris and represent good evidence for the existence of individual consistency, thus paving the way for further research into personality traits in this species.
AuthorsMüller, Hélène Véronique Thérèse
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