ABS 2022
Social and Individual Learning in the Fall Field Cricket
Tricia A. Skelton1, Aimee Dunlap2, Julie Morand-Ferron1, Susan M. Bertram3. 1University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; 2University of Missouri St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, United States; 3Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Social learning helps animals gain information about their environment by watching others. It is well studied in a variety of animals, but information is lacking about social learning in solitary insects. Our experiment tests individual and social learning in the fall field cricket, Gryllus pennsylvanicus. We tested if naive crickets could associate water paired with an odour and visual cue. We began with a training phase, where an observer cricket watched a demonstrator cricket sample water (appetitive) and saltwater (aversive); we paired each water type with a visual and olfactory cue. We then ran two testing phases, one for the demonstrator and one for the observer. We determined if the demonstrator exhibited individual learning, and the observer social learning, by testing cue preference without any water present. Learning was inferred if a group, on average, preferred the trained cues. As social learning has been observed in G. bimaculatus, our study will provide insight into interspecific similarities and differences. Our study also has potential to open avenues for future work with the species, including studying social learning strategies and cultural spread.