Insectes Sociaux

, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 25–32 | Cite as

Ventilation response thresholds do not change with age or self-reinforcement in workers of the bumble bee Bombus impatiens

Research Article

Abstract

The response threshold model is a potential mechanism for task allocation in social insects, and it assumes that workers vary in the levels of task stimuli to which they respond. Furthermore, response thresholds of individual workers may change over time through self-reinforcement (experience), such that workers become more sensitive to task stimuli. However, in addition to self-reinforcement, aging is another process that occurs through time. Distinguishing whether response thresholds change within workers due to self-reinforcement or aging may give insight into the flexibility of this task allocation mechanism. Using a ventilation paradigm, we manipulated workers of Bombus impatiens to have either repeated or lack of exposures to increases in nest air temperature, thereby allowing us to manipulate experience and thus self-reinforcement. Nest air temperature was the task stimulus, and ventilation (fanning) was the behavioral response. We found that ventilation response thresholds do not decrease either with age or experience in workers of B. impatiens, contrary to what has been reported for B. terrestris workers (Weidenmüller, 2004). Instead, we found high levels of intra-individual variation in response thresholds. Our results also show that workers with lower average response thresholds respond to heating events with higher probability than those with higher ventilation thresholds. These results provide insight into the role of the response threshold framework for task allocation; we also discuss how response probabilities may play a role in task allocation among workers.

Keywords

Collective behavior Division of labor Learning Task allocation Thermoregulation 

References

  1. Alford D.V. 1975. Bumblebees. Davis-Poynter, London, UKGoogle Scholar
  2. Beshers S.N. and Fewell J.H. 2001. Models of division of labor in social insects. Annu. Rev. Entomol. 46: 413-440Google Scholar
  3. Cameron S.A. 1989. Temporal patterns of division of labor among workers in the primitively eusocial bumble bee, Bombus griseocollis (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Ethology 80: 137-151Google Scholar
  4. Couvillon M.J., Jandt J.M., Duong N. and Dornhaus A. 2010. Ontogeny of worker body size distribution in bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) colonies. Ecol. Entomol. 35: 424-435.Google Scholar
  5. Duong N. and Schneider S.S. 2008. Intra-patriline variability in the performance of the vibration signal and waggle dance in the honey bee, Apis mellifera. Ethology 114: 646-655Google Scholar
  6. Gardner K.E., Foster R.L. and O’Donnell S. 2007. Experimental analysis of worker division of labor in bumblebee nest thermoregulation (Bombus huntii, Hymenoptera: Apidae). Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 61: 783-792Google Scholar
  7. Goulson D. 2003. Bumblebees: Behaviour and Ecology. Oxford University Press, Oxford, MAGoogle Scholar
  8. Goulson D., Peat J., Stout J.C., Tucker J., Darvill B., Derwent L.C., and Hughes W.O.H. 2002. Can alloethism in workers of the bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, be explained in terms of foraging efficiency? Anim. Behav. 64: 123-130Google Scholar
  9. Heinrich B. 1979. Bumblebee Economics. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  10. Jandt J.M. and Dornhaus A. 2009. Spatial organization and division of labor in the bumblebee Bombus impatiens. Anim. Behav. 77: 641-651Google Scholar
  11. Jandt J.M., Huang E. and Dornhaus A. 2009. Weak specialization of workers inside a bumble bee (Bombus impatiens) nest. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 63: 1829-1835Google Scholar
  12. Jones J.C. and Oldroyd B.P. 2007. Nest thermoregulation in social insects. Adv. Insect Phsiol. 33: 153-191Google Scholar
  13. Jones J.C., Myerscough M.R., Graham S. and Oldroyd B.P. 2004. Honey bee nest thermoregulation: Diversity promotes stability. Science 305: 402-404Google Scholar
  14. O’Donnell S. and Foster R.L. 2001. Thresholds of response in nest thermoregulation by worker bumble bees, Bombus bifarius nearcticus (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Ethology 107: 387-399Google Scholar
  15. Oldroyd B.P. and Fewell J.H. 2007. Genetic diversity promotes homeostasis in insect colonies. Trends Ecol. Evol. 22: 408-413Google Scholar
  16. Oster G.F. and Wilson E.O. 1978. Caste and Ecology in the Social Insects. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJGoogle Scholar
  17. Pankiw T. and Page R.E. 1999. The effect of genotype, age, sex, and caste on response thresholds to sucrose and foraging behavior of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.). J. Comp. Physiol. A 185: 207-213Google Scholar
  18. Raine N.E., Ings T.C., Ramos-Rodriguez O. and Chittka L. 2006. Intercolony variation in learning performance of a wild British bumblebee population. Entomol. Gener. 28: 241-256.Google Scholar
  19. Ravary F., Lecoutey E., Kaminski G., Chaline N. and Jaisson P. 2007. Individual experience alone can generate lasting division of labor in ants. Curr. Biol. 17: 1308-1312Google Scholar
  20. Robinson G.E. 1987. Regulation of honey-hee age polyethism by juvenile-hormone. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 20: 329-338Google Scholar
  21. SAS Institute I. 1989-2007. JMP, Version 7.0.2. Inc, Cary, NCGoogle Scholar
  22. Theraulaz G., Bonabeau E. and Deneubourg J.L. 1998. Response threshold reinforcement and division of labour in insect societies. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B Biol. 265: 327-332Google Scholar
  23. Vogt F.D. 1986. Thermoregulation in bumblebee colonies.I. Thermoregulatory versus brood-maintenance behaviors during acute changes in ambient temperature. Physiol. Zool. 59: 55-59Google Scholar
  24. Weidenmüller A. 2004. The control of nest climate in bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) colonies: interindividual variability and self reinforcement in fanning response. Behav. Ecol. 15: 120-128Google Scholar
  25. Weidenmüller A., Kleineidam C. and Tautz J. 2002. Collective control of nest climate parameters in bumblebee colonies. Anim. Behav. 63: 1065-1071Google Scholar
  26. Weidenmüller A., Mayr C., Kleineidam C.J. and Roces F. 2009. Preimaginal and adult experience modulates the thermal response behavior of ants. Curr. Biol. 19: 1897-1902Google Scholar
  27. Wray M.K., Mattila H.R. and Seeley T.D. 2011. Collective personalities in honeybee colonies are linked to colony fitness. Anim. Behav. 81: 559-568Google Scholar

Copyright information

© International Union for the Study of Social Insects (IUSSI) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Entomology and Insect Science Graduate Interdisciplinary Program, Arizona Research LaboratoriesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

Personalised recommendations