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Data from: Honey bees use absolute rather than relative numerosity in number discrimination

Citation

Bortot, Maria et al. (2019), Data from: Honey bees use absolute rather than relative numerosity in number discrimination, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.7rv4ct1

Abstract

Various vertebrate species use relative numerosity judgments in comparative assessments of quantities for which they use larger/smaller relationships rather than absolute number. The numerical ability of honey bees shares basic properties with that of vertebrates but their use of absolute or relative numerosity has not been explored. We trained free-flying bees to choose variable images containing 3 dots; one group (‘larger’) was trained to discriminate 3 from 2, while another group (‘smaller’) was trained to discriminate 3 from 4. In both cases, numbers were kept constant but stimulus characteristics and position were varied from trial to trial. Bees were then tested with novel stimuli displaying the previously trained numerosity (3) vs. a novel numerosity (4 for ‘larger’ and 2 for ‘smaller’). Both groups preferred the three-item stimulus, consistently with absolute numerosity. They also exhibited ratio-dependent discrimination of numbers, a property shared by vertebrates, as performance after 2 vs. 3 was better than after 3 vs. 4 training. Thus, bees differ from vertebrates in their use of absolute rather than of relative numerosity but they also have some numeric properties in common.

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