Learning is expected to be potentially more important in
predator avoidance than foraging because a single mistake can be fatal.
However, few, if any, attempts have been made to measure the dynamics
of predator avoidance learning in a natural context. We therefore
quantify predator avoidance learning of nectar foraging bumblebees
using a novel, semi-natural, foraging paradigm. We presented bees
with an artificial meadow containing 16 remotely controlled flowers
that could simulate a predation attempt by a crab spider by capturing
bees as they fed. Avoidance learning and memory dynamics were measured
for bees encountering dangerous flowers with either visible or
camouflaged spider models. In addition, flight behaviour was quantified
using 3D tracking software. All bees learnt to avoid dangerous
flowers well, irrespective of the visibility of the crab spider models.
Bees learnt to avoid visible spiders slightly better than camouflaged
spiders, although the speed of learning did not differ. For both
spider visibility treatments bees continued to avoid dangerous
flowers without significant loss in performance over both middle
(minutes) and long time scales (24 hours). The presence of camouflaged
spiders on dangerous flowers led to subtle changes in flight behaviour:
when rejecting flowers, bees flew slower and spent longer inspecting
dangerous flowers than safe flowers. Bumblebees are readily able to
learn to avoid simulated predation attempts at flowers. When predators
are difficult to detect they appear to compensate by slowing down
inspection flights enabling them to maintain high levels of accuracy.
enetic information is encoded in the nucleotide sequence of the DNA.
sequence contains the instruction code of the cell - determining
structure and function, and hence cell function and fate.