Associative learning of non-nestmate odor marks between colonies of the stingless bee Scaptotrigona mexicana Guérin (Apidae, Meliponini) during foraging
Stingless bees use chemical signals to communicate nestmates the location of rich food sources. Such information may be intercepted by conspecifics from other colonies. In this study, we investigated if chemical information from non-nestmates can be used to orient foragers of the stingless bee Scaptotrigona mexicana to food sources. In the first experiment, foragers were exposed to feeders that were differentially odor-marked by nestmates and non-nestmates, and their preferences for both types of feeders were recorded. In a second experiment, we marked different feeders with mandibular or labial gland extracts of nestmates and non-nestmates. Results from the first experiment indicate that foragers were able to associate odor marks from non-nestmates with rich food sources. In the second experiment, we observed that foragers did not differentiate between the gland extracts of nestmates and those from non-nestmates. We discuss these findings within a behavioral and ecological framework.
KeywordsPheromone Recruitment Foraging Meliponine Espionage
We appreciate the help of the following people during field and laboratory work: Leonardo Arévalo-Monterrubio, Augusto Campollo-Ovalle, Ricardo Toledo-Hernández, Andy Villarreal Cruz and Miguel Guzmán. This study was possible thanks to the support of SEP-CONACYT agreement no. 128702 “Evolución de la cleptobiosis en Lestrimelitta”, SEP-CONACYT agreement no. 106043 “Land use effect on the conservation of bees’ biodiversity” and UC-MEXUS project “Olfactory eavesdropping and against a cleptoparasite, Lestrimelitta niitkib”. The first autor was supported with a scholarship from CONACYT.
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