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Data from: Intra-specific differences in cognition: Bumblebee queens learn better than workers

Citation

Muth, Felicity (2021), Data from: Intra-specific differences in cognition: Bumblebee queens learn better than workers , Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.dfn2z3528

Abstract

Species’ cognitive traits are shaped by their ecology, and even within a species, cognition can reflect the behavioural requirements of individuals with diffferent roles. Social insects have a number of discrete roles (castes) within a colony, and thus offer a useful system to determine how ecological requirements shape cognition. Bumblebee queens are a critical point in the lifecycle of their colony, since its future success is reliant on a single individual’s ability to learn about floral stimuli while finding a suitable nest site; thus, one might expect particularly adept learning capabilities at this stage. I compared wild Bombus vosnesenskii queens and workers on their ability to learn a colour association and found that queens performed better than workers. In addition, queens of another species, B. insularis, a cuckoo species with a different lifecycle but similar requirements at this stage, performed equally well as the non-parasitic queens. To control for differences in foraging experience, I then repeated this comparison with lab-based B. impatiens, and found that unmated queens performed better than workers. These results add to the body of work on how ecology shapes cognition and opens the door to further research in comparative cognition using wild bees.