Differences in learning performance and related behaviors across three honey bee subspecies from Turkey

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2018
Erdem, Babür
In this thesis we studied learning performance in 3 subspecies of honey bee (Apis mellifera L.), Carniolan honey bee (A. m. carnica), Syrian honey bee (A. m. syriaca), and Caucasian honey bee (A. m. caucasica). These subspecies are found in remote corners of Turkey and apparently morphologically and genetically diverged from each other. Previous studies have illustrated differences in foraging and defense behavior across these subspecies. Also, numerous examples of behavioral differences across species or subspecies of honey bees, as well as relationships between behavior and learning are found in the scientific literature. Thus, we hypothesize that differences in learning performance may also be found between Syrian, Carniolan, and Caucasian honey bees. To investigate this, we used two discriminant learning assays. One is the Electric Shock Avoidance (ESA) conditioning assay, which uses aversive conditioning with color learning. The other is called the Proboscis Extension Response (PER) conditioning assay and uses appetitive conditioning with odor learning. In addition, to support our results, we monitored daily locomotor activities of honey bees and conducted a starvation study. The results of ESA conditioning assay suggested that the Caucasian honey bee may have higher discriminant learning performance than the Syrian honey bee and the Carniolan honey bee. Meanwhile, the Syrian honey bee may have impairment in discrimination according to the results of the PER conditioning assay. Overall, these three subspecies appear to have significant differences in learning performance, which we argue may be linked with their natural habitats and foraging behavior.

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Citation Formats
B. Erdem, “Differences in learning performance and related behaviors across three honey bee subspecies from Turkey,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2018.