Social recognition represents the foundation of social living. To what extent is social recognition hard-determined by early-life experience or flexible and influenced by social context of later life-stages is a crucial question in animal behaviour studies. Social insects have represented classic model to investigate the subject, and the acknowledged idea is that relevant information to create the referent template for nestmate recognition (NMR) is usually acquired during an early sensitive period in adult life. Experimental evidence, however, highlighted that also other processes may be at work in creating the template, and that such a template may be updated during adult life according to social requirements. However, currently we lack an ad hoc experiment testing the alternative hypotheses at the basis NMR ontogeny in social insects. Thus, to investigate the mechanisms underlying the ontogeny of NMR in Polistes wasps, a model genus in recognition studies, and their different role in determining recognition abilities, we subjected Polistes dominula workers to different olfactory experiences in different phases of their life before inserting them into the social environment of a novel colony and testing them in recognition bioassays. Our results show that workers develop their NMR abilities based on their social context rather than through preimaginal and early learning or self-referencing. Our study demonstrates, for the first time, that the social context represents the major component shaping recognition abilities in a social wasp, therefore shedding new light on the ontogeny of recognition in paper wasps and prompting the reader to rethink about the traditional knowledge at the basis of the recognition in social insects.

Rethinking recognition: social context in adult life rather than early experience shapes recognition in a social wasp

Alessandro Cini;
2020

Abstract

Social recognition represents the foundation of social living. To what extent is social recognition hard-determined by early-life experience or flexible and influenced by social context of later life-stages is a crucial question in animal behaviour studies. Social insects have represented classic model to investigate the subject, and the acknowledged idea is that relevant information to create the referent template for nestmate recognition (NMR) is usually acquired during an early sensitive period in adult life. Experimental evidence, however, highlighted that also other processes may be at work in creating the template, and that such a template may be updated during adult life according to social requirements. However, currently we lack an ad hoc experiment testing the alternative hypotheses at the basis NMR ontogeny in social insects. Thus, to investigate the mechanisms underlying the ontogeny of NMR in Polistes wasps, a model genus in recognition studies, and their different role in determining recognition abilities, we subjected Polistes dominula workers to different olfactory experiences in different phases of their life before inserting them into the social environment of a novel colony and testing them in recognition bioassays. Our results show that workers develop their NMR abilities based on their social context rather than through preimaginal and early learning or self-referencing. Our study demonstrates, for the first time, that the social context represents the major component shaping recognition abilities in a social wasp, therefore shedding new light on the ontogeny of recognition in paper wasps and prompting the reader to rethink about the traditional knowledge at the basis of the recognition in social insects.
Cappa, Federico; Cini, Alessandro; Signorotti, Lisa; Cervo, Rita
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11568/1141791
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