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Data from: Low dose of neonicotinoid insecticide reduces foraging motivation of bumblebees

Citation

Lämsä, Juho et al. (2018), Data from: Low dose of neonicotinoid insecticide reduces foraging motivation of bumblebees, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.vb06d3k

Abstract

Widespread use of neonicotinoid insecticides, such as imidacloprid, is often associated with diminishing populations of bees; this loss of pollinators presents a concern for food security and may cause unpredictable changes in ecological networks. However, little is known about the potential behavioral mechanisms behind the neonicotinoid-associated pollinator decline. We quantified the effects of low dose (1 ppb) imidacloprid exposure on the foraging behaviour of bumblebees (Bombus terrestris). Individual bumblebees were released into a flight arena containing three patches of robotic flowers whose colour (yellow, orange, blue) indicated whether the flower delivered a reward (sugar solution). Exposure to imidacloprid had no significant effect on measures of bumblebee physical performance (such as flight speed) or learning (identifying rewarding flowers). However, pesticide treated bumblebees had reduced foraging motivation compared with the control bumblebees, as they visited fewer robotic flowers, were slower to start foraging and did not visit all three flower colours as often. Neonicotinoid concentrations of 1 ppb, often reported in plant nectar near agricultural lands, can thus affect the foraging behaviour of bumblebees. Even without a notable impact on flight performance and learning, a reduction in foraging motivation could explain the poor performance of colonies of bumblebees exposed to neonicotinoids.

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