Jan 17, 2008

Multimodal signals enhance decision making in foraging bumble-bees

Proceedings. Biological Sciences
Ipek G KulahciDaniel R Papaj

Abstract

Multimodal signals are common in nature and have recently attracted considerable attention. Despite this interest, their function is not well understood. We test the hypothesis that multimodal signals improve decision making in receivers by influencing the speed and the accuracy of their decisions. We trained bumble-bees (Bombus impatiens) to discriminate between artificial flowers that differed either in one modality, visual (specifically, shape) or olfactory, or in two modalities, visual plus olfactory. Bees trained on multimodal flowers learned the rewarding flowers faster than those trained on flowers that differed only in the visual modality and, in extinction trials, visited the previously rewarded flowers at a higher rate than bees trained on unimodal flowers. Overall, bees showed a speed-accuracy trade-off; bees that made slower decisions achieved higher accuracy levels. Foraging on multimodal flowers did not affect the slope of the speed-accuracy relationship, but resulted in a higher intercept, indicating that multimodal signals were associated with consistently higher accuracy across range of decision speeds. Our results suggest that bees make more effective decisions when flowers signal in more than one modality, an...Continue Reading

  • References22
  • Citations43
  • References22
  • Citations43

Citations

Mentioned in this Paper

Apis mellifera
Behavior, Animal
Diagnostic Radiology Modality
Plant Carpals
Discrimination Learning
Vision
Smell Perception
Odors
Apidae
Bombus impatiens

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