TitleNesting ecology does not explain slow-fast cognitive differences among honeybee species.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsTait C, Brockmann A, Naug D
JournalAnim Cogn
Date Published2021 Apr 27

Slow-fast behavioral and life history differences have been tied to slow-fast variation in cognition that is part of the general speed-accuracy tradeoff. While there is growing evidence for such cognitive variation and its association with behavior and life history at the intraspecific level, it is unknown if a similar relationship extends to the interspecific level. Since interspecific differences in cognition have been shown to be a function of ecology and life history, such differences should be reflected in multiple traits that comprise the slow-fast cognitive axis. In this study, by measuring multiple cognitive traits in individuals, we tested for differences in the cognitive phenotype among four honeybee species, which differ in their behavior and life history in a manner that is associated with differences in their nesting ecology. Our results indicate that a set of cognitive traits consistently covary within each species, resulting in slow and fast cognitive phenotypes that largely meet the predictions of the speed-accuracy tradeoff. We also find that the four species group into two distinct clusters on a slow-fast cognitive axis, although their positions do not align with the known differences in their life history and nesting ecology. We instead find that cognitive differences among the four species are correlated with their brain size. We discuss the possible implications of these results for the role of ecology on slow-fast cognitive differences and the evolution of cognition.

Alternate JournalAnim Cogn
PubMed ID33907939