Data from: Influence of preexisting preference for color on sampling and tracking behavior in bumble bees
Maharaj, Gyanpriya et al. (2018), Data from: Influence of preexisting preference for color on sampling and tracking behavior in bumble bees, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.21qb8m0
Animals reduce uncertainty in their lifetime by using information to guide decision making. Information available can be inherited from the past or gathered from the present. Therefore, animals must balance inherited biases with new information that may be in conflict with those potential biases. In our study, we set up color pairings such that an arbitrarily chosen focal color, human-orange, would result in an inherent bias in comparison to three other colors tested resulting in equal, medium, and strong preference differences. We chose color pairings through a series of preferences tests across 8 colonies of bumblebees. We subsequently used these pairings with rewards that varied in quality (good or bad states) and consistency (steady and fluctuating) in order to investigate how inherited biases affect the foraging choices of bumblebees when new information is gathered. We found that the pre-existing color biases within our bees were only maintained when the reward associated with those colors was steady, even if paired with mediocre sugar concentrations. When maintained, we observed that other aspects of bee choice also reflected this bias, including increased sampling for the preferred color and an increased likelihood of choosing that color in a subsequent choice. Thus, environmental change and reward differences interact with the level of pre-existing bias to determine whether inherited information is more heavily weighted than newly gathered information, and even a strong pre-existing bias can be quickly erased with experience under some conditions.