Frames of reference in small-scale spatial tasks in wild bumblebees



Martin-Ordas G (2022) Frames of reference in small-scale spatial tasks in wild bumblebees. Scientific Reports, 12, Art. No.: 21683.

Spatial cognitive abilities are fundamental to foraging animal species. In particular, being able to encode the location of an object in relation to another object (i.e., spatial relationships) is critical for successful foraging. Whether egocentric (i.e., viewer-dependent) or allocentric (i.e., dependent on external environment or cues) representations underlie these behaviours is still a highly debated question in vertebrates and invertebrates. Previous research shows that bees encode spatial information largely using egocentric information. However, no research has investigated this question in the context of relational similarity. To test this, a spatial matching task previously used with humans and great apes was adapted for use with wild-caught bumblebees. In a series of experiments, bees first experienced a rewarded object and then had to spontaneously (Experiment 1) find or learn (Experiments 2 and 3) to find a second one, based on the location of first one. The results showed that bumblebees predominantly exhibited an allocentric strategy in the three experiments. These findings suggest that egocentric representations alone might not be evolutionary ancestral and clearly indicate similarities between vertebrates and invertebrates when encoding spatial information.

Animal behaviour; Experimental evolution

Scientific Reports: Volume 12

FundersRoyal Society and European Commission (Horizon 2020)
Publication date31/12/2022
Publication date online15/12/2022
Date accepted by journal13/12/2022

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Dr Gema Martin-Ordas

Dr Gema Martin-Ordas

Senior Lecturer, Psychology