Stimulus-dependent learning and memory in the neotropical ant Ectatomma ruidum

Andre J Riveros, Brian V Entler, Marc A Seid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Learning and memory are major cognitive processes strongly tied to the life histories of animals. In ants, chemotactile information generally plays a central role in social interaction, navigation and resource exploitation. However, in hunters, visual information should take special relevance during foraging, thus leading to differential use of information from different sensory modalities. Here, we aimed to test whether a hunter, the neotropical ant Ectatomma ruidum, differentially learns stimuli acquired through multiple sensory channels. We evaluated the performance of E. ruidum workers when trained using olfactory, mechanical, chemotactile and visual stimuli under a restrained protocol of appetitive learning. Conditioning of the maxilla labium extension response enabled control of the stimuli provided. Our results show that ants learn faster and remember for longer when trained using chemotactile or visual stimuli than when trained using olfactory and mechanical stimuli separately. These results agree with the life history of E. ruidum, characterized by a high relevance of chemotactile information acquired through antennation as well as the role of vision during hunting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Volume224
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2021

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