ABS 2022
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Transfer and interference effects in nectar robbing by the bumblebee, Bombus impatiens
Minjung Baek, Dan R. Papaj. The University of Arizona, TUCSON, Arizona, United States

Transferring a behavioral response to stimuli learned previously to novel stimuli can give animals immediate benefit without incurring a cost of learning. If stimuli are more similar, the previously learned response will be transferred more easily through generalizing two stimuli. However, if the response required in the new environment is different from the previously learned response, generalizing stimuli may interfere with learning the new response. Here, we gave B. impatiens one type of artificial flower before switching to another. To see how the previously learned stimuli and responses affect the learning in the novel situation, we manipulated the color of each type of flower in relation to two foraging tactics, legitimate visiting and nectar robbing. Our results showed that when bees switched between flowers of similar color but requiring different tactics, they made more errors, whereas switching between flowers of similar color requiring the same foraging tactic resulted in the fewest errors. These findings will help us understand the role of similarity in transfer and interference effects and give insight into conditions under which nectar robbing is favored in bees.