Herascu R (2020). The Effects of Landscape and Experience on the Navigation and Foraging Behaviour of Bumblebees, Bombus terrestris.
Abstract: The Effects of Landscape and Experience on the Navigation and Foraging Behaviour of Bumblebees, Bombus terrestris
Bumblebees live in an environment where the spatial distribution of foraging resources is always changing. In order to keep track of such changes, bumblebees employ a variety of different navigation and foraging strategies. Although a substantial amount of research has investigated the different navigation and foraging behaviours of bumblebees, much less is known of the effects that landscape features have on bumblebee behaviour. In this thesis, a series of experiments were conducted in order to investigate the role that landscape features have on the navigation and foraging behaviour of Bombus terrestris and whether individuals’ experience influences such behaviour. A hedgerow situated next to the colony was not found to significantly shape the flight paths or foraging choices of naïve bumblebees. Homing success was investigated and used as a proxy for foraging range in different environment types. Both the release distance and the type of environment were found to have a significant effect on the homing success of Bombus terrestris workers. Previous experience of the landscape was also found to significantly affect the time it took bumblebees to return to the colony (homing duration) as well as the likelihood of staying out overnight before returning to the colony. When focusing on the first five flights of a naïve bumblebee worker, experience was not found to significantly affect flight duration. Experience, however, significantly affected the weight of pollen foraged. The observed behaviour of bumblebee gynes provisioning their maternal colony with pollen was also investigated. The influx of pollen into the colony was found to affect this behaviour, suggesting that gynes will provision the maternal colony in response to its nutritional needs. The overall results are also discussed within the context of informing landscape management practices. The results presented in this thesis point to the critical role that factors such as the physical landscape and individual experience play in influencing bumblebee behaviour.