Joachim Erber, Technische Universität Berlin, Institut für Ökologie

In our research group we analyse the neural mechanisms underlying different forms of behavioral plasticity in the honey bee. We use behavioral analyses, electrophysiological recordings, neuroanatomical and neuropharmacological studies and molecular techniques. At the behavioral level we mainly study different forms of tactile learning. In collaboration with Rob Page we found that the responsiveness to sucrose stimuli is strongly correlated with the learning performance. Bees with low response thresholds for sucrose show better acquisition and less extinction during tactile and olfactory learning. We found that variations in learning performance due to weather, age, foraging role, and genotype can be explained to a high degree by variations in the responsiveness to sucrose. Response thresholds for sucrose, on the other hand, are closely correlated with different foraging roles in bees (see the profile of Rob Page). Presently we do not know whether the responsiveness to sucrose is just a very good indicator for different forms of adaptive behaviors or whether it is the cause for behavioral differences. We are analysing these questions now with electrophysiological, pharmacological and molecular techniques.

Selected recent publications:




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