Nesting ecology does not explain slow–fast cognitive differences among honeybee species

Abstract

Slow–fast behavioral and life history differences have been tied to slow–fast variation in cognition that is part of the general speed-accuracy tradeoff. While there is growing evidence for such cognitive variation and its association with behavior and life history at the intraspecific level, it is unknown if a similar relationship extends to the interspecific level. Since interspecific differences in cognition have been shown to be a function of ecology and life history, such differences should be reflected in multiple traits that comprise the slow–fast cognitive axis. In this study, by measuring multiple cognitive traits in individuals, we tested for differences in the cognitive phenotype among four honeybee species, which differ in their behavior and life history in a manner that is associated with differences in their nesting ecology. Our results indicate that a set of cognitive traits consistently covary within each species, resulting in slow and fast cognitive phenotypes that largely meet the predictions of the speed-accuracy tradeoff. We also find that the four species group into two distinct clusters on a slow–fast cognitive axis, although their positions do not align with the known differences in their life history and nesting ecology. We instead find that cognitive differences among the four species are correlated with their brain size. We discuss the possible implications of these results for the role of ecology on slow–fast cognitive differences and the evolution of cognition.

Neural substrates involved in the cognitive information processing in teleost fish

Abstract

Over the last few decades, it has been shown that fish, comprising the largest group of vertebrates and in many respects one of the least well studied, possess many cognitive abilities comparable to those of birds and mammals. Despite a plethora of behavioural studies assessing cognition abilities and an abundance of neuroanatomical studies, only few studies have aimed to or in fact identified the neural substrates involved in the processing of cognitive information. In this review, an overview of the currently available studies addressing the joint research topics of cognitive behaviour and neuroscience in teleosts (and elasmobranchs wherever possible) is provided, primarily focusing on two fundamentally different but complementary approaches, i.e. ablation studies and Immediate Early Gene (IEG) analyses. More recently, the latter technique has become one of the most promising methods to visualize neuronal populations activated in specific brain areas, both during a variety of cognitive as well as non-cognition-related tasks. While IEG studies may be more elegant and potentially easier to conduct, only lesion studies can help researchers find out what information animals can learn or recall prior to and following ablation of a particular brain area.