Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Breed

Abstract

Behavior can be defined as a response to a stimulus due to an individual’s unique genotype and environment. As behaviors are expressed across contexts and over time it becomes personality. While personality has been studied extensively in vertebrates, it is only beginning to be investigated in insects. Considering the ecological importance of honeybees (Apis mellifera), it is important to learn whether or not, and how behavior influences their personality. In light of current concern regarding the welfare of honeybees, studies regarding their behavior may provide vital information about their responses to environmental stressors. In my study, I used a series of assays to quantify behavioral patterns. A shy-bold continuum of personality is recognized in many animals. I measured behaviors along this continuum in honeybees to determine if there are behavioral differences among individuals within a colony. I found correlations that suggest that individual bees may display behavioral differences. I was able to investigate differences among bees, but not behavioral trajectories over time. This study provides an initial look into how behavioral syndromes differ between individual honeybees within the same colony. Potential future research that follows bees from their first day as adults and throughout their lives will be necessary to augment the data collected here and provide information that may lead to the idea of personality in honeybees. As we continue to learn more about behavior and personality in honeybees it may become possible to provide ecosystem services that increase the fitness of the colony.

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