University of Oulu

Loukola, O. J., Gatto, E., Híjar-Islas, A. C., & Chittka, L. (2020). Selective interspecific information use in the nest choice of solitary bees, Animal Biology, 70(2), 215-225. doi:

Selective interspecific information use in the nest choice of solitary bees

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Author: Loukola, Olli J.1,2,3,4; Gatto, Elia3,4; Híjar-Islas, Ana C.4;
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, PO Box 3000, FI-90014, Oulu, Finland
2Botanical Museum, Biodiversity Unit, PO Box 3000, FI-90014, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3University of Padova, Department of General Psychology, 35100 Padova, Italy
4Queen Mary University of London, Department of Biological and Experimental Psychology, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, London E1 4NS, United Kingdom
5Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Institute for Advanced Study, Wallotstrasse 19, D-14193 Berlin, Germany
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Brill, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-05-05


Most of the studies on learning in bees have focused on the foraging context; we know little about the preferences and cognitive processes in nest-site selection, especially in solitary bees. The majority of the bee species are solitary and in contrast to eusocial bees, solitary bees’ cognition and social information use have remained largely unstudied. Solitary cavity-nesting mason bees (Osmia spp.) are an ideal system to study interspecific information use in nest choice in the wild as many species share similar nesting requirements. Here, we show that the blue mason bee (O. caerulescens) and the orange-vented mason bee (O. leaiana) examine hallmarks of parasitization of the nests of red mason bees (O. bicornis) before deciding where to establish their own nests. They were also presented with contextual cues (geometric symbols) that could be linked to parasitization by observational learning. Subjects subsequently had the choice of nesting in a nest site marked by the symbol that matched, or did not match, the one seen at the parasitized or healthy nest. We show that the bees copied and rejected the symbol of the examined nest manipulated to exhibit successful and unsuccessful nesting, respectively. We conclude that solitary bees use interspecific information in their nest-site selection. In contrast with current theories of species coexistence, niche overlap between species may dynamically change depending on the observed success of surrounding individuals.

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Series: Animal biology
ISSN: 1570-7555
ISSN-E: 1570-7563
ISSN-L: 1570-7555
Volume: 70
Issue: 2
Pages: 215 - 225
DOI: 10.1163/15707563-20191233
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: OJL is funded by the Jenny and Antti Wihuri foundation and Academy of Finland (no. 24302601) and the Chittka lab was funded by ERC Advanced Grant SpaceRadarPollinator and EPSRC grant Brains-on-Board.
Dataset Reference: Supplementary material:
Copyright information: © Loukola et al., 2020. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY 4.0 License.