Master of Science
Sherry, David F.
Bumblebees exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides collect less pollen on foraging trips. Exposed bumblebees are also slower to learn to handle flowers, which may account for reduced pollen collection. It is unclear, however, why neonicotinoid exposure slows learning to handle flowers. I investigated the effect of imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid pesticide, on bumblebee motor learning using a lab model of flower handling. Bumblebees learned to invert inside a narrow tube and lift a petal-shaped barrier to reach a reward chamber. Imidacloprid-exposed bumblebees showed a dose-dependent delay to solve the task, which resulted from reduced switching between behavioural strategies and a subsequent delay in use of the successful strategy. This effect was consistent in colonies exposed at 10 but not 2.6 ppb, suggesting a variable effect on individuals at lower doses. These results help to explain why exposed bumblebees are slow to learn to handle flowers and collect less pollen on foraging trips.
Phelps, Jordan D., "Imidacloprid Impairs Performance on a Model Flower Handling Task in Bumblebees (Bombus impatiens)" (2018). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 5479.