Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Dr. David Sherry


This thesis explores learning in bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) and its relation to foraging and development of the mushroom bodies of the bee brain. The first experiment describes the performance of bees on a serial reversal task. Reversal learning requires animals to change their behavior with changes in reward contingencies and is a measure of behavioural flexibility. Results show that bumblebees are capable of improving in a serial reversal task. The second experiment explores the effects of foraging experience on bumblebee mushroom bodies. Mushroom body volume was compared in bees confined to the colony, bees actively foraging, and bees tested on the serial reversal task. In both experiments, bees were housed in simulated foraging environments differing in complexity, to determine the effect of environmental complexity on learning and brain development. The second experiment found no effect of foraging, learning experience or environmental complexity on mushroom body volume.



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