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Foraging behavior of the stingless bee Plebeia droryana in relation to food resources marked with pheromones of Trigona hyalinata (Hymenoptera: Apidae, Meliponini)

Grant number: 14/24230-8
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2015
Effective date (End): January 31, 2017
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology
Principal Investigator:Fábio Santos do Nascimento
Grantee:Ana Paula Cipriano
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil


Social insects have a complex social organization and are able to perform many different tasks in a coordinated way. Communication is essential to providing the organization of activities within the colonies and one of the key tasks for the survival of these individuals is the collection of food. The information exchange to indicate food sources is called recruitment communication. The highly eusocial bees groups Apini and Meliponini make use of sophisticated methods to exploit food resources. While in the honeybee group foraging ecology and behavior are extensively studied, there is a lack of such information in Meliponini. This large and diverse group of social bees presents a variety of foraging strategies and recruitment communication can be present or absent. Additionally, individuals of different species often use the same food sources and interactions between different species may occur during the foraging leading to possible competition. As a result of this highly competitive environment, it is expected that the ability to explore the signals left by other species in the food sources have evolved in this group. Thus, this project aims to investigate the behavioral responses of Plebeia droryana, solitary forager species, to pheromones used by Trigona hyalinata, a mass recruiter species that aggressively defends food resources. The evaluation of these responses can provide important information for understanding the evolution of different foraging strategies in Meliponini. (AU)

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