Monarch butterflies memorize the spatial location of a food source

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2023
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Konnerth, M. Marcel
el Jundi, Basil
Spaethe, Johannes
Beetz, M. Jerome
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Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B : Biological Sciences. Royal Society of London. 2023, 290(2013), 20231574. ISSN 0962-8452. eISSN 1471-2954. Available under: doi: 10.1098/rspb.2023.1574
Zusammenfassung

Spatial memory helps animals to navigate familiar environments. In insects, spatial memory has extensively been studied in central place foragers such as ants and bees. However, if butterflies memorize a spatial location remains unclear. Here, we conducted behavioural experiments to test whether monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) can remember and retrieve the spatial location of a food source. We placed several visually identical feeders in a flight cage, with only one feeder providing sucrose solution. Across multiple days, individual butterflies predominantly visited the rewarding feeder. Next, we displaced a salient landmark close to the feeders to test which visual cue the butterflies used to relocate the rewarding feeder. While occasional landmark displacements were ignored by the butterflies and did not affect their decisions, systematic displacement of both the landmark and the rewarding feeder demonstrated that the butterflies associated the salient landmark with the feeder's position. Altogether, we show that butterflies consolidate and retrieve spatial memory in the context of foraging.

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570 Biowissenschaften, Biologie
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foraging behaviour, visual landmarks, neuroethology, spatial memory, insects
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ISO 690KONNERTH, M. Marcel, James J. FOSTER, Basil EL JUNDI, Johannes SPAETHE, M. Jerome BEETZ, 2023. Monarch butterflies memorize the spatial location of a food source. In: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B : Biological Sciences. Royal Society of London. 2023, 290(2013), 20231574. ISSN 0962-8452. eISSN 1471-2954. Available under: doi: 10.1098/rspb.2023.1574
BibTex
@article{Konnerth2023Monar-69189,
  year={2023},
  doi={10.1098/rspb.2023.1574},
  title={Monarch butterflies memorize the spatial location of a food source},
  number={2013},
  volume={290},
  issn={0962-8452},
  journal={Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B : Biological Sciences},
  author={Konnerth, M. Marcel and Foster, James J. and el Jundi, Basil and Spaethe, Johannes and Beetz, M. Jerome},
  note={Article Number: 20231574}
}
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