Behaviour 2019
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The role of similarity of stimuli on transfer and interference effects in nectar robbing by Bombus impatiens
Minjung Baek, Daniel R Papaj. University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, United States

Because environments vary in time and space, animals may encounter novel situations. Transferring a behavioral response to stimuli learned previously to novel stimuli can give animals immediate benefit since they can adjust to the new environment without incurring a cost of learning. Transfer should depend on how similar novel stimuli are to stimuli experienced earlier, occurring more readily when stimuli are more similar. But the response matters too. If the response required in the new environment is different from the previously learned response, similarity in stimuli across the environments may actually interfere with learning the new response. How degree of similarity in stimuli interacts with degree of similarity in responses is poorly understood. Here we examine this interaction for Bombus impatiens bumblebees foraging for nectar. We manipulate the color of artificial flowers in relation to two foraging tactics, legitimate visiting and nectar robbing. How color interacts with tactic 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 using multiple flower species.