Using the proboscis extension reflex to evaluate effects of stressors on honeybee learning and memory
LE3 .A278 2011
Master of Science
Honeybee learning and memory can be assessed using the proboscis extension reflex (PER). However, the literature contains significant inconsistencies in PER techniques for insect preparation and training protocols, and selection criteria used in statistical analyses. I found cooling method affected honeybee learning but not PER during extinction or responsiveness to sucrose. Recovery interval post-cooling and month of the year altered honeybee responsiveness to sucrose and an odour. Selection of individuals, based on their response during experiments, affected statistical significance of analyses. These results suggest that variation in methods could substantially influence interpretation and comparison of results from a large body of work on honeybee learning and memory. I also assessed effects of a common pesticide Apistan® (active ingredient, fluvalinate) on honeybee responses. I found that high oral doses of fluvalinate had the most detrimental effects on honeybee neural function and survival. In summary, I recommend that more attention should be given to how PER is applied, and how honeybees are excluded from experiments. My results also have implications for effects of miticides on honeybee health.
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